An hour after Attorney General William Barr announced the resignation of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the latter denied the news, stating that he has no intention to resign. The news of Berman's resignation, given his direct hand in investigations that have reportedly angered President Donald Trump, fueled speculation over another 'Saturday Night Massacre' by Trump.
Berman Says Ongoing Investigations Would Continue Uninterrupted
In a statement issued late on Friday night, Barr confirmed the resignation of Berman, the US attorney who not only managed the key prosecutions of Trump's allies but also prompted an investigation into his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
"I am pleased to announce that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the next United States Attorney for the southern district of New York," said the statement from Barr. It also added that the US attorney in New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, would serve as the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, beginning on July 3.
However, rebutting Barr's claims, Berman issued a statement saying: "I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was 'stepping down' as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York." The US attorney also said that he would step down only after a nominee is confirmed by the Senate.
Ensuring that the important cases would continue unimpeded, Berman said that the ongoing investigations would move forward without delay or interruption. "I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor," he added.
'Saturday Live Massacre' Trends on Twitter
The recent turn of events brought a startling similarity to the infamous 'Saturday Night Massacre', carried out by former US President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, in October 1973. In the incident which prompted Nixon's resignation the following year, the President expelled legal officials from the Justice Department.
John Bolton, the former national security adviser of Trump, recently made a claim in his tell-all book that the US President promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that he would interfere in the Halkbank case that was being prosecuted in the Southern District. Berman's office has prosecuted a number of Trump associates, including his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a prison sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes, and has also been investigating Giuliani and his associates, reported The Guardian.
"This late Friday night dismissal reeks of potential corruption of the legal process. What is angering President Trump? A previous action by this US attorney or one that is ongoing?" questioned Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
"Trump just tried to pull off a Saturday Night Massacre, but he ended up shooting himself in the foot," tweeted Palmer Report.
"Barr tries to fire the SDNY AG overseeing multiple Trump family investigations. "I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate." They can't even do Saturday Night Massacre right," tweeted a user.