Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York that was fired by Attorney General Barr last month, told the House Judiciary Committee today that he was pressured to resign from his post so a candidate preferred by the White House could take over.
Berman’s firing last month came after a tense standoff with Barr stemming from a ‘misunderstanding’ of what took place during a June 18 in Manhattan. Barr asked Berman to resign and he refused.
“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. 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,” Berman said during the closed-door hearing on Thursday, according to the opening statement obtained by the Politico.
Last month, Barr released a statement late on a Friday saying Berman was stepping down from his post. About an hour later Berman released his own statement saying he has no intention of resigning and will “step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”
During Thursday’s testimony, Berman said during the June 18 meeting he “asked the Attorney General why I was being asked to resign prior to a nominee being confirmed.” According to Berman, AG Barr “said it was because the Administration wanted to get Jay Clayton into that position.”
Clayton is the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has never been a prosecutor.
Berman also told lawmakers, he had consulted lawyers to contest his removal but he decided against it when Barr agreed to promote his deputy Audrey Strauss instead of bringing in someone from outside the office.
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