135 former Manhattan prosecutors sign letter slamming AG Barr’s ‘political interference’ in the firing of US attorney Berman
Attorney General William Barr, one of President Donald's Trump’s unwavering loyalists, has given his critics yet another reason to speak out against him: the firing of Geoffrey Berman as a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. And on Sunday, June 21, at least 135 former Manhattan prosecutors voiced their displeasure with Barr and Trump by signing a letter in defense of Berman.
In a copy of the letter obtained by the Corporate Crime Reporter, the attorneys asserted, “The actions of the president and the attorney general are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner.”
The ex-Manhattan prosecutors went on to say that Trump and Barr “are politicizing an office that, for more than 200 years, has remained apolitical, and are undermining confidence in our criminal justice system. We call on our elected officials — Republicans and Democrats alike — to take all appropriate action to protect the administration of justice in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere from this kind of political interference.”
The letter pointed out that the Southern District of New York has been a fixture in the United States’ legal system. In fact, the Southern District was established the same year as the U.S. Supreme Court: 1789.
“Founded in 1789, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was the first federal attorney’s office in the young country and, for over 200 years, has stood for the independence of the administration of Justice — independent of political and personal interests of the executive branch of the government and independent of other special interests. It was, for example, a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney who prosecuted former members of Richard Nixon’s cabinet and a Democratic-appointed U.S. attorney who prosecuted one of the most powerful Democrats in the state. The impartial administration of justice is what distinguishes the United States from authoritarian regimes around the world and is fundamental to our democracy.”
On Friday, June 19, Barr announced that Berman had resigned. But the following day, the U.S. attorney general acknowledged that it wasn’t a resignation, but a firing — and said that Trump had ordered Berman fired. But Trump claimed that Berman’s firing wasn’t his decision. At first, Berman asserted that he had “no intention” of leaving his position voluntarily. But over the weekend, he reluctantly accepted the decision and planned to vacate the Southern District of New York.
It isn’t hard to figure out why Barr and Trump have major issues with the Southern District, which has been quite aggressive about investigating the president and his allies — including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now Trump’s personal attorney.