Ousted SDNY federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman to appear before House Judiciary Committee next week
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Former Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman will testify next week before the House Judiciary committee in a closed door hearing – just weeks after President Trump fired him.
Berman will appear before the Democrat-led House committee next Thursday, Fox News is told.
Attorney General William Barr informed Berman late last month that he was fired from his post as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
At the time, Barr said he asked Trump to fire Berman after the Manhattan federal prosecutor said Friday he planned to stay on the job against the Trump Administration's wishes.
"Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service," Barr said in the letter. "Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so."
Barr said Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss was appointed to take over until a permanent successor is in place.
Berman’s appearance next week will be the latest event in a highly publicized feud between the former U.S. attorney and the Trump administration.
Barr and the White House announced in June that Trump will nominate Jay Clayton, the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to replace Berman. But Berman, whose office has been a thorn in Trump's side, said he learned of his "departure" from Barr's press release and had no intention of leaving the job.
Barr initially said the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, would take over on an acting basis beginning July 3 until Jay Clayton's SEC confirmation. But Barr switched gears afterwards by announcing Strauss would manage the SDNY in the interim.
Democrats accused the Trump administration of trying to shut down Berman, who is leading investigations into the president's allies.
“The president has doubled down on his fixer’s obstruction of investigations into him and his allies," said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a contender to be Joe Biden's vice-presidential pick. "It is clear that nothing will restrain his corruption. No one is above the law. The American people will have their say.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who helped prosecute the Trump impeachment case before the Senate, announced his committee will launch an investigation into Berman's ouster, saying it "smacks of corruption and incompetence."
The Southern District has prosecuted a number of Trump associates, including the president's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who served a prison sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes. The office has also been investigating Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings, including whether he failed to register as a foreign agent, people familiar with the probe told The Associated Press.
Berman has also overseen the prosecution of two Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were associates of Giuliani and tied to the Ukraine impeachment investigation. The men were charged in October with federal campaign finance violations, including hiding the origin of a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump’s reelection.
Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton said that Trump sought to interfere in a Southern District investigation into the Turkish Halkbank in an effort to cut deals with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.