Schumer Demands Investigation Into Trump Team’s Lies About U.S. Attorney

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This past Friday night, the Trump administration attempted to force out the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman. In a statement, Attorney General Bill Barr made a claim that Berman was resigning, which turned out to be a brazen lie. In a follow-up statement, Berman revealed the lie, insisting that he would not be leaving under the current circumstances. (Barr claims that Trump has now stepped in and fired Berman directly.) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on the inspector general’s office overseeing the Justice Department to immediately start an investigation into the circumstances of Berman’s attempted firing — and Schumer called on the Trump team’s pick to replace Berman to step aside rather than go along with the plan to kick out a prosecutor who the president may not have liked.

The Trump team picked Jay Clayton — who currently heads the Securities and Exchange Commission — to replace Berman. Schumer compared Clayton’s position to that of former Attorney General Elliott Richardson, who resigned when then-President Richard Nixon demanded that he fire a special investigator looking into the Watergate scandal. Schumer said:

‘Forty seven years ago, Elliott Richardson had the courage to say no to a gross abuse of presidential power. Jay Clayton has a similar choice today: He can allow himself to be used in the brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere with investigations by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, or he can stand up to this corruption, withdraw his name from consideration, and save his own reputation from overnight ruin.’

The Senate Democratic leader added:

‘Furthermore, I am calling for the Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to immediately launch an investigation into the reasons behind the decision by the president and the attorney general to attempt to dismiss Mr. Berman.’

Check out his statement below:

Reporter Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News noted that Berman’s office has definitely handled cases that could have attracted the political ire of the president and his colleagues. As he explained:

‘Berman’s office has for months been investigating Rudy Giuliani for potential criminal violations of lobbying laws over his dealings in Ukraine. Berman, of course, also ran the Michael Cohen investigation, which implicated Trump in federal crimes.’

Indeed — in the Cohen case, Trump was directly implicated in his former “fixer’s” campaign finance law violations, which included repeated attempts to essentially buy the silence of women with whom Trump had affairs. It’s not the only case in which Trump has been directly tied to criminal activity — some have long suggested that Trump would have already faced criminal charges if he was not the president, although not necessarily for the hush money scheme.

CNN reporter Erica Orden explained that Barr had personally asked Berman to resign before the fake resignation announcement. She shared:

‘Barr asked Berman to resign during a meeting in NY on Friday. Berman refused. DOJ offered him alternative posts. Berman still said no. Hours later, Barr put out a press release saying Berman was “stepping down,” & two hours after that Berman said he’s not going anywhere.’

The next steps in this case are not immediately clear.