Dear Commons Community,
President Trump yesterday fired the federal prosecutor whose office put his former personal lawyer in prison and is investigating his current one, heightening criticism that the president was carrying out an extraordinary purge to rid his administration of officials whose independence could be a threat to his re-election campaign. As reported by The New York Times:
Mr. Trump’s dismissal of the prosecutor, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office has pursued one case after another that have rankled Mr. Trump, led to political blowback and an unexpected result: By the end of the day, Mr. Berman’s handpicked deputy, not the administration’s favored replacement, was chosen to succeed him for now.
The abrupt ouster of Mr. Berman came as Mr. Trump sought to reinvigorate his campaign with its first public rally in months and days after new allegations by his former national security adviser that he had engaged in “obstruction of justice as a way of life.”
It was the latest move in a broader purge of administration officials that has intensified in the months since the Republican-led Senate acquitted Mr. Trump at an impeachment trial.
Since the beginning of the year, the president has fired or forced out inspectors general with independent oversight over executive branch agencies and other key figures from the trial.
Mr. Berman, who has been in office since 2018, had declined to leave his post after Attorney General William P. Barr announced late on Friday night that Mr. Berman would be replaced by Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Clayton is friendly with Mr. Trump and had golfed with the president at his club in Bedminster, N.J., as recently as last weekend, according to two people familiar with the matter.
But on Saturday, facing a standoff with Mr. Berman, Mr. Barr shifted course. In a letter released by the Justice Department, Mr. Barr told Mr. Berman that Mr. Trump had fired him and that he would be replaced temporarily with the prosecutor’s own chief deputy, Audrey Strauss.
The choice of Ms. Strauss appeared to mollify Mr. Berman, who then issued a statement saying he would step down in light of the reversal.”
Nothing but crass interference into the justice system!