House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) stated that Attorney General William Barr‘s actions in firing U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman may be criminal.
In June, Barr pressured Berman to step down from his position as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in a meeting. When Berman refused Barr’s offer to be hired as the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman or a position in the Department of Justice’s civil division, he was ultimately fired by Donald Trump on June 20.
“We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery,” Nadler said.
Critics of Barr’s actions believe that this was an attempt by Trump to put his supporters in more positions of power, especially as Berman had previously investigated Trump’s associates. Berman’s planned replacement was to be current SEC chairman Jay Clayton, but after Berman argued that he lacked the qualifications, his deputy, Audrey Strauss, was chosen as his successor.
In his statement, Berman wrote he trusted in Strauss as the Acting U.S. Attorney, saying that she was his “hand-picked and trusted Deputy” and that “having full confidence that Audrey would continue the important work of the Office, I decided to step down and not litigate my removal.”
Though one of Barr’s threats against Berman was that Berman would “not be good for [his] résumé or future job prospects,” as Berman reported, Stanford Law School decided to welcome Berman into its ranks of faculty and staff as the Edwin A. Heafey Jr. Visiting Professor of Law. Berman is an alumnus of the school who graduated with his degree in 1984.
Berman will be teaching an elective course called “Prosecutorial Discretion and Ethical Duties in the Enforcement of Federal Criminal Law.”