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Experts shocked by ‘insane’ Friday night announcement US Attorney is ‘stepping down’: SDNY ‘has been breached’

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Legal experts were shocked when the Trump administration announced on Friday night that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York would be replaced.

Preet Bharara, who preceded Geoffrey Berman in leading the SDNY, wrote on Twitter, “Doesn’t sound like ‘stepping down.'”

“Why does a president get rid of his own hand-picked US Attorney in SDNY on a Friday night, less than 5 months before the election?” Bharara asked.

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Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mimi Rocah, who is a veteran of the office, agreed.

“If Berman were truly ‘stepping down’ he would wait until his replacement was confirmed or – as usually happens – his Deputy U.S. Attorney would be the Acting U.S. Attorney,” she noted. “Why is the NJ US Attorney taking over SDNY!?”

Attorney Elie Honig also served as a prosecutor in the SDNY office.

“This is insane,” Honig posted. “SDNY is the last bastion of DOJ independence and now even it has been breached.”

Daniel Goldman of Trump impeachment fame is also a veteran of the Southern District of New York.

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“Berman’s resignation is not typical. When SDNY USA’s step down (or are fired in Preet’s case), their deputy takes over. Going to DNJ for the acting USA is a sign that Trump/Barr did not want anyone at SDNY running the office — likely because there was a serious disagreement,” he wrote.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wondered if the abrupt personnel change might be to protect Rudy Giuliani.

“So do you care to explain why you fired the SDNY U.S. Attorney, [President Trump]. Does it have anything to do with their investigation of Rudy Giuliani or your campaign?” he asked.

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“Given Trump’s history, would anyone be surprised if he fired Berman to influence or quash the investigation of Giuliani? He hasn’t faced consequences for similar behavior in the past,” he explained.

“Be concerned,” former DOJ official David Laufman warned his Twitter followers. “Be very concerned.”

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2020 Election

Trump ripped as a ‘traitor’ by veterans for his mask photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital

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The veteran advocacy organization Vote Vets on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump for holding a photo-op at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

After a round of golf on Saturday, Trump traveled to the hospital to be photographed by the press pool wearing a mask, which was a first since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vote Vets, which says it has raised over $120 million since being founded in 2006 and made over 50 million voter contacts, released a new video on Trump's visit.

The ad says it shows "what wounded warriors see when Trump comes for a photo-op."

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2020 Election

Trump’s push to reopen schools prematurely is an assault on states’ rights that may prove deadly

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It’s hard to avoid a sense of déjà vu as the Trump regime threatens to withhold federal education funding from states that refuse to re-open their schools this fall. The contours of the “debate,” such as it is, perfectly align with the one we had a couple of months ago about re-opening businesses in the midst of a pandemic.

Then, as now, conservatives tried to frame the issue as a choice between re-opening and staying stuck in quarantine indefinitely. Those less moored to reality, including the President, insisted that proponents of quarantines were only motivated by a desire to undermine Trump’s prospects for re-election. The real divide at the time was between those of us who wanted to follow the science, build up adequate testing and contact-tracing capacity and re-open safely once the rate of infection had declined, and those, mostly on the right, who wanted to re-open prematurely either because they believed we’d achieve herd immunity if we let the outbreak run its course or because they thought Covid-19 was a “hoax” that was no more serious than the seasonal flu.

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2020 Election

How 68,000 COVID-19 survivors created a world-class patient resource group in just four months

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Diana Berrent was one of the first people in her hometown of Port Washington, New York, to get COVID-19. Back then, in early March 2020, only immunocompromised and seniors were believed to be high-risk; hence, as a 46-year-old yoga practitioner and runner, Berrent was "shocked" when she woke up with a 103-degree fever and respiratory infection — symptoms that strongly suggested she had coronavirus, which was later confirmed by a test.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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