Late on Friday, June 19, the Attorney General announced that Geoffrey S. Berman, who has for more than two years been the chief federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), had resigned that post, effective July 3. No reason for Berman’s (alleged) departure was given in the Friday announcement.
Berman soon replied that he had had no knowledge of his “resignation” until he read the Justice Department’s press release about it. He has not resigned, he said, and he would not leave office until a new presidential nominee for the post could be confirmed by the US Senate. This led to an hours long showdown until Berman, on Saturday, agreed that he had been fired by the President, and that he would leave immediately.
The Thing to Know:
The whole episode looks like a botched effort to get Berman to ‘go quietly’ under terms that would have allowed the administration to insert into that important prosecutorial office someone whom it regards as adequately pliable. Berman did not go quietly, and through the standoff he won a significant point — he will be replaced by his deputy, Audrey Strauss. She is an in-house promotion for the SDNY, not a newbie brought in from outside.