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Trump fired Berman to present SEC chairman Clayton a US lawyer job, the White Home claims


U.S. lawyer for the southern district of New York, Geoffrey Berman, enters the courthouse before a bail hearing in the U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein's case of sex trade on July 15, 2019 in New York City.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

She said Clayton was "highly regarded" by the president.

When asked directly whether Berman was fired from his post dealing with federal crime criminal matters because he oversaw cases and investigations into Trump's employees, McEnany said, "No, he wasn't."

"No investigation will be affected by this change in leadership at SDNY's US Attorney General," she said.

McEnany's statement came when Senate Minority Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Described Berman's dismissal as "corrupt" and "gave the impression that the President had interfered in ongoing criminal investigations into himself and his employees."

Schumer sent a letter to the Justice Department internal watchdog, Inspector General Michel Horowitz, and to the Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, Jeffrey Ragsdale, asking them to conduct a joint investigation into Berman's release.

Another New York Democrat, Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Justice Committee, said Sunday that he was "sure" that Berman would testify to the committee about the events that led to his dismissal.

At the press conference on Monday, McEnany also said that Attorney General William Barr "is taking the lead on the matter" to fire Berman and that Trump has signed this highly controversial dismissal of Berman.

"Mr. Clayton will now reach this position over time," she said.

But Clayton's nomination could fail.

Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, R-S.C., Said he would respect a Senate tradition that gave senators from the states where the prosecution is located effective veto power over the appointment of U.S. attorneys. The other New York senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, is also a democrat and is expected to block Clayton's appointment along with Schumer.

McEnany's explanation for Berman's dismissal mirrored unidentified senior officials' allegations to reporters on Friday and Saturday after the bombing news broke that Barr Berman was trying to get out of the SDNY office.

This office has and continues to investigate Trump employees, particularly his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City, and himself, the former U.S. attorney for Manhattan.

Berman's office, previously convicted of multiple financial crimes by Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, is currently pursuing two Giuliani employees who have helped persuade Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the alleged Democratic presidential candidate .

Jay Clayton, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The now official statement of Berman's dismissal to make way for Clayton has been largely mocked by former U.S. attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara, whom Trump has dismissed and replaced with Berman, and other observers from the powerful prosecutor's office.

Barr said Friday night that Berman, who had given no evidence of plans to quit his job, would step down as a U.S. attorney and that Trump would nominate Clayton for the position.

Shortly afterwards, Berman announced in a perhaps even more astonishing move than Barrs that he refused to leave the job until a successor was confirmed by the Senate.

According to Barr's Department of Justice, Berman could not be dismissed because he had been appointed by the District Court judges in the SDNY, not the President as usual.

According to the instructions of the Ministry of Justice, the president has the authority to fire a federal attorney appointed by the court. However, it is not clear that the guidelines have ever been examined in court.

On Saturday, Barr Berman said in a letter that Trump had fired him.

Trump later confused the issue later Saturday, saying to reporters, "It's up to the Attorney General … I'm not involved."

Still, Berman said he would leave the office immediately.

Berman, however, specifically noted that Barr had admitted on Saturday that Berman's deputy Audrey Strauss would temporarily head the office.

Barr said for the first time on Friday evening that the United States attorney for New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, would also temporarily head the SDNY until Clayton is confirmed.

Berman's statement about Strauss said, "I couldn't leave the district in better hands than Audreys."

"She is the smartest, most principled, and most effective lawyer I've ever worked with," Berman wrote. "And I know that the unprecedented investigators, trainee lawyers and employees of this office, under their leadership, will continue to preserve the southern district's long-standing tradition of integrity and independence."

Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala., Said on MSNBC on Sunday night that Berman's dismissal was "again like Deja Vu, as Yogi Berra would say".

"This happened in the Bush administration in 2006 when seven or eight US attorneys were fired – ultimately determined to be fired for political reasons, and it cost that Attorney General (Alberto) Gonzales his job," Jones said.

"What we want to see is that Attorney General and former US attorney Berman appear in front of the House Committees to talk about it and answer questions," said Jones, who is a former US attorney.

"It just doesn't suit me that someone fires a US attorney because someone else wants the job. It's just not the right way to deal with US attorneys," said Jones. "So things just don't add up, and I hope they'll come, if it's as innocent as they say, I hope they come to testify."

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