Schumer Requests Inspector General Probe into Firing of US Attorney Berman

June 22, 2020 Updated: June 22, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has called for an investigation into the firing of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. The Senator sent a letter to the Justice Department inspector general to investigate the ousting of Berman by President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr.

“As the Attorney General was not truthful when he initially represented that U.S. Attorney Berman was ‘stepping down,’ this corrupt firing cannot be explained by cause and gives the impression that the President interfered in ongoing criminal investigations into himself and his associates,” Schumer wrote Monday. “To help restore confidence in and prevent further abuses to the administration of justice, the American people deserve to know the truth,” wrote Schumer.

Schumer sent the letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Office of Professional Responsibility Director Jeffrey Ragsdale.

Barr first announced on June 19 that Berman was stepping down, to which Berman responded that he had no intention of resigning.

“Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” said Barr in his June 20 letter to Berman. “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.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment about the firing.

After that, the New York Attorney formally resigned. Democrats are accusing President Trump and Barr of firing Berman because he was investigating Trump.

“In light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting U.S. Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately,” Berman said in a June 20 statement.

During his time in office, Berman led the prosecution against sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, before Epstein committed suicide in jail. He has not brought charges against any of Epstein’s associates despite widespread calls to do so.

Berman has also probed several people who were once close to Trump, including Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, and his current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

In his letter, Schumer mentioned that investigators conducted a similar probe in 2006 during the Bush administration after several U.S. attorneys said they were forced to resign by senior Justice Department officials.

“At the conclusion of that investigation, your offices found that the removal of these U.S. Attorneys and the controversy it created severely damaged the credibility of the Department of Justice and raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecutive decisions,” Schumer said.

No evidence of wrongdoing by the Bush administration was found in the 2006 firing of those U.S. Attorneys.

The position vacated by Berman has yet to be filled, but in response to reports that Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton might be considered for the position, Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) issued a statement of opposition on Saturday, echoing Democrats’ call to block any nominee.

“I will not be complicit in helping President Trump and Attorney General Barr fire a U.S. attorney who is reportedly investigating corruption in this administration. Jay Clayton should withdraw his name from consideration immediately and remove himself from this sham. President Trump cannot be allowed to desecrate our nominations process further.”

Schumer said in a press briefing Saturday, that he hopes Berman will voluntarily testify before Congress about the reason for his firing.

“I calling for a three-pronged investigation into the Friday night massacre that occurred in the Justice Department with relationship to the Southern District of New York, and I’m asking Mr. Berman to voluntarily come and testify to the Congress, so we know exactly what has happened,” said Schumer.

Other Democrats, including Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) called on Barr to resign or even face impeachment.

Nadler’s comments to CNN come after he said in a statement Saturday that his panel will open an investigation into the Trump administration’s move to fire Berman.

“The House Judiciary Committee will immediately open an investigation into this incident, as part of our broader investigation into Barr’s unacceptable politicization of the Department of Justice,” said Nadler, who served as an impeachment manager in Trump’s Senate trial.