Democrats expressed hope on Sunday that ousted U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman will soon testify before the House.
The comments came after a dizzying weekend in which Attorney General William Barr initially announced Friday that Berman had resigned, to which Berman said he had not resigned. Barr then said Saturday that, at his request, Trump fired Berman. When asked about Berman’s firing Saturday, Trump told reporters he was “not involved” in the situation and that the decision was “up to the attorney general.”
“That’s his department, not my department,” Trump said. “I’m not involved.”
Soon after, Berman announced he was immediately departing as U.S. attorney in Manhattan, leaving control of the office in the hands of his deputy, Audrey Strauss.
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said he was “sure” Berman will soon testify before his committee. On Wednesday, Nadler’s committee is holding a hearing on alleged White House political interference in the Department of Justice, and Berman is invited.
“I don’t know about Wednesday, but I’m sure he will testify,” Nadler said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told ABC’s “This Week” it’s his “hope” that the House Judiciary Committee will hear from Berman soon “because I think he has a lot to say about a continuing pattern of chaos, crisis and corruption that we have seen from the Trump administration from the very beginning until this very day.”
Elsewhere on that program, Sen. Tim Scott., R-S.C., said he was not concerned over Berman’s ouster.
“I think President Trump actually hired Mr. Berman and he fired Mr. Berman,” Scott said. “Everyone at the DOJ works at the pleasure of the president, number one. Number two, there’s no indication whatever that whatever is being investigated will not continue to move on.”
In his Saturday letter to Berman, Barr said he had been “surprised and quite disappointed” by Berman’s Friday night response to Barr’s initial announcement that Berman had resigned.
“Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” Barr wrote. “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.”
It’s unclear why Berman was removed from the post. His office has been involved in a number of high profile investigations involving individuals connected to the president, including an investigation of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s business activities, and the prosecution of two Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, former associates of Giuliani who were tied to the Ukraine impeachment investigation.
In his Saturday announcement, Berman suggested he was stepping aside because Barr acknowledged that Strauss would take over the office rather than Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, who the administration announced as a replacement on Friday.
Speaking with “State of the Union,” Preet Bharara, who previously held Berman’s role before Trump fired him in 2017, said Barr “made a public misrepresentation about whether or not Geoff Berman was stepping down from office.”
“It was clearly not the case. It was clearly a falsehood,” Bharara said. “And he tried to cover that up with a letter that name-called the — spent time calling names against Geoff Berman, and also retreated from the position a little bit, allowing Berman to decide that the office was going to be left in good hands with Audrey Strauss, the deputy.”
“And I think that conduct alone shows there’s a sort of unfitness for office,” he continued, adding that the circumstances around the firing “show that I don’t think it was in good faith.”
Nadler, meanwhile, said he believes Barr should be impeached but won’t bother doing so because of the Senate’s Republican majority.
“He certainly deserves impeachment,” Nadler said. “But, again, that’s a waste of time, because the Republicans in the Senate won’t look at that, and we have other ways of getting at this.”