Geoffrey Berman, the powerful U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said late Friday that he had not resigned after Attorney General William Barr said he would be stepping down. Barr sent a letter to Berman on Saturday saying he had asked President Trump to fire Berman, and the president had done so.
"I was surprised and quite disappointed by the press statement you released last night," Barr said in a statement. "Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so."
Berman's office had investigated some of President Trump's associates, including the president's former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Berman received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from Stanford University. He clerked for a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and then served as an associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel during the Iran-Contra investigation. From 1990 to 1994, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York.
Berman worked as an attorney in private practice from 1994 to 2018. He worked at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, where former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was also a partner.
After Mr. Trump fired Berman's predecessor, Preet Bharara in 2017, he interviewed Berman for the position. Berman was appointed to be the interim United States attorney in Manhattan by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump never sent Berman's nomination to the Senate, due to concerns that Senate Democrats may block his confirmation. After 120 days, he was nominated by U.S. District judges.
Berman recused himself from the investigation into Cohen, who pleaded guilty in November 2018 to charges of lying to Congress. He oversaw the investigations of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Giuliani.
Berman also oversaw the investigation into convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide in jail while facing federal sex trafficking charges.
Berman said in a statement Friday evening that he was not resigning.
"I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York," Berman said. "I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption. I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor – and intend to ensure that this Office's important cases continue unimpeded."
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