According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the attempted firing of Southern District of New York lead prosecutor Geoffrey Berman by Attorney General Bill Barr was long in coming and began preordained days after Barr was approved by the U.S. Senate.
Friday night, in a press release from the Justice Department, Barr announced that Berman had “stepped down,” only to have the prosecutor issue a defiant press statement of his own saying he was not resigning and had no intention of resigning — setting up a possible battle in federal court.
As the Journal notes, the two lawyers facing off in court is the culmination of months of Barr inserting himself into investigations being conducted by the SDNY — particularly any involving Donald Trump and his associates including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
With the Journal noting, “The exchange—in which a U.S. attorney refused to be fired by his boss, the most powerful figure in American law enforcement—sets up a showdown in the Justice Department several months before a presidential election,” adding that Barr “offered Mr. Berman a job leading the Justice Department’s civil division in Washington, after [United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division] Jody Hunt announced this week he planned to resign, but Mr. Berman declined.”
While noting that Barr’s announcement shocked some in the Manhattan U.S. attorneys’ office, the report notes it was inevitable considering the ongoing investigations that could impact the president.
“Reports of tensions between Mr. Barr and Mr. Berman began circulating almost immediately after Mr. Barr was sworn in as attorney general in early 2019. Mr. Barr at the time sought information from the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office about two cases involving the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the matter,” The Journal reports. “One was an investigation into hush-money payments made to two women who alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, which had led to Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea the year before. The other was an investigation into alleged campaign-finance violations involving associates of Mr. Giuliani.”
According to the report, Barr has expressed “skepticism” about some of the SDNY cases involving Trump and his associates, and recently “clashed over the Southern District’s prosecution of a Turkish bank that allegedly helped Iran evade U.S. sanctions,” according to Justice Department sources.
According to the report Barr has been feeling out the man he wants to replace Berman with, Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Jay Clayton, for weeks and that Clayton — a Donald Trump appointee — had expressed a desire to take over SDNY.
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Trump-loving media’s attacks on Joe Biden have all been epic flops so far: data
Pro-Trump media websites have been trying to pull the same trick on Joe Biden that they pulled on Hillary Clinton in 2016 -- but so far, none of their attacks on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee have gained traction.
Axios reports that data from right-wing news websites shows that reader engagement on three key anti-Biden stories -- his alleged mental decline, his son Hunter Biden's former job with Ukrainian energy company Burisma, and sexual assault allegations by Tara Reade -- have all fizzled.
Trump aides frustrated by his ‘nonsensical’ Biden attacks in Ohio: AP reporter
During a segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire stated that aides close to President Donald Trump thought the president made some good points about the U.S. economy on Thursday -- only to have his message overlooked when he attacked former Vice President Joe Biden.
Speaking with co-host Willie Geist, Lemire said there were other problems with the Ohio visit -- including Republican Gov. Mike DeWine being unable to attend because he tested positive for COVID-19 -- but Trump stating Biden "hurts God" made the economic points the president made secondary in a state where he needs votes.
Expert: Trump playing ‘whack-a-mole’ in attempt to salvage states he should be winning
A top political analyst says President Donald Trump seems to be flying blind as he heads toward an electoral loss.
Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House editor for the Cook Report, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that demographic changes had turned formerly reliable red states into competitive congressional races, and that same dynamic had made Trump's re-election campaign even more challenging.
"Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina, if you talk to the Trump data people they'll hang their hat on the gap getting narrower in those states," Wasserman said. "What's happening is that a lot of the older voters who, for lack of a better term, are exiting the electorate. They are disproportionally registered Democrats who are conservative and voted for Trump in 2016. Yes, the registration gap is narrowing, fewer voters are registering to vote this year than did in 2016 because we're in a pandemic. That doesn't mean the states are getting more favorable to Trump."