US Attorney Geoffrey Berman steps down, ends tug of war with AG William Barr – New York Post

Geoffrey Berman on Saturday night agreed to step down as one of the nation’s most powerful U.S. Attorneys, ending a day-long power tug-of-war that stretched from his Manhattan headquarters to the White House and Justice Department in Washington.

In a statement issued at 6 p.m., Berman said he would leave immediately, and turn control of the office over to his Deputy U.S. Attorney, Audrey Strauss.

Berman credited his decision — which came after a day of refusing to step down — to Attorney General William Barr backtracking on his original demand that his successor be attorney and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton.

While well-liked and respected in Washington and on Wall Street, Clayton had no prosecutorial experience and was considered an administration insider.

“In light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting U.S. Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately,”  Berman’s letter read.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as this District’s U.S. Attorney and a custodian of its proud legacy, but I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s.

“She is the smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer with whom I have ever had the privilege of working.

“And I know that under her leadership, this Office’s unparalleled AUSAs, investigators, paralegals, and staff will continue to safeguard the Southern District’s enduring tradition of integrity and independence.”

The drama played out in dueling statements that began Friday night, when Barr’s announcement that Berman was “stepping down” was followed an hour later by a statement from Berman that he in fact was not going anywhere.

Then, earlier Saturday, Barr countered in another statement that President Trump had fired Berman. Within minutes, Trump was telling reporters on the South Lawn that the decision hadn’t been his at all — shifting responsibility for the firing back to Barr.

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