Berman Testifies That Barr Fired Him — And Then Lied

Bill Barr

Attorney General William Barr

Photo by AMERICA vs TRUMP licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A former top prosecutor testified under oath on Thursday that Attorney General William Barr lied about the events surrounding his departure from his job last month.

Barr had announced on June 19 that Geoffrey Berman would be resigning from his role as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Berman testified in a closed-door hearing of the House Judiciary Committee that Barr had pushed him out of his job in order to install the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, in the position.

Berman's testimony that Barr lied about the events surrounding his departure adds more fuel to Democrats' argument that Barr has acted inappropriately in his role as the top law enforcement officer in the country.

The events surrounding Berman's removal have remained unclear for weeks since he was dismissed on June 20.

At the time, Berman was investigating Trump's close political ally Rudy Giuliani. He had already prosecuted Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

The day before Barr pushed Berman out, Berman had refused to sign a letter written by Trump administration officials condemning New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for restricting religious gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opening statement before the House Judiciary Committee, obtained by Politico, Berman said Barr's claim on June 19 that Berman had voluntarily resigned was a lie.

Berman issued a statement on June 19 saying he had not resigned and had no intention of stepping down, which he had told Barr. Barr then ordered Berman's firing, he said. Barr initially claimed that Trump had fired Berman. While Trump denied any involvement, the White House said he was involved in the "sign-off."

Berman went on to testify that Barr had offered him other positions, in the Department of Justice's Civil Division and as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but that he had turned them down. He also said Barr had made threats about what would happen if he didn't voluntarily step aside.

"The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired," Berman wrote in his opening statement. "He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign."

House Democrats were already investigating Barr for intervening in criminal cases at the behest of Trump.

"The whole thing smacks of corruption and incompetence, which is what we have come to expect from this President and his Attorney General," House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said in a statement immediately after Berman's firing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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