After a controversial episode played out last week resulting in U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffry Berman being fired, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is addressing the situation.
He said in a recent interview that Berman had been “living on borrowed time” and was serving in a temporary capacity, as reported by the Washington Times.
Berman publicly denied he had any intention of stepping down from the post following a Justice Department statement on Friday that announced he had been replaced.
“Never made an appointment”
After Berman refused to resign, Barr subsequently stated that, upon his request, President Donald Trump made the decision to fire the U.S. attorney.
A number of prominent Democrats soon began arguing that the entire ordeal appeared to be an effort by Barr to inject politics into a federal prosecutor’s office handling probes of multiple individuals within the president’s orbit.
While reports labeled Berman as a Trump nominee, Barr refuted those claims, asserting that the president “never made an appointment to that office.”
Instead, he said Berman had been serving as an interim and “was appointed by the court as a temporary U.S. attorney” filling the position until a permanent replacement could be confirmed.
“That’s really up to him”
“He was living on borrowed time,” the attorney general concluded.
In any case, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a congressional investigation, asserting that Barr “was not truthful when he initially represented that U.S. Attorney Berman was ‘stepping down'” and added to speculation that “the President interfered in ongoing criminal investigations into himself and his associates.”
For his part, Trump was quick to distance himself from the decision to fire Berman, saying it was “all up to the attorney general” to make such recommendations.
“That’s his department, not my department,” the president said. “But we have a very capable attorney general, so that’s really up to him.”
While even some Republicans have criticized the manner in which this saga played out publicly, many are also defending Trump’s ability to fire U.S. attorneys at will. It will be up to voters to determine whether this issue impacts their opinion of the administration.