Attorney General (AG) William Barr tried to fire the Geoff Berman the Attorney General Southern District of New York (SDNY). Of course, his stealth tactic was sneaking the news out on a Friday evening as big news was being made in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Donald Trump planned his 2020 campaign kick-off with anywhere between 100,000 to one million people risking their lives to see the president.
When fewer than 6,200 individuals showed, POTUS was embarrassed and slunk back to Washington, DC. The overwhelming stripes of empty blue seats in the auditorium were depressing to the Trump gang — at a minimum.
That left the news free to check on Trump’s former National Security Adviser (NSA) John Bolton. ABC’s Martha Raddatz got the scoop in the form of her live video (below). She wanted to know whether Trump planned to interfere in the SDNY investigation of a state-owned Turkish bank.
Bolton told ABC’s Martha Raddatz last week that Trump’s suggestion of getting involved in the investigation felt like “obstruction of justice to me:”
‘The December 2018 episode is detailed in Bolton’s forthcoming book entitled “The Room Where It Happened.”’
It appeared that the SDNY was investigating the bank, because it kept violating the US’s:
‘[S]anctions against Iran. Bolton asserted that Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had discussed the investigation several times, with the Turkish president wanting a settlement for Halkbank.’
Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) was interested in convincing Berman to testify before Congress:
‘Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he hopes former U.S. attorney for SDNY Geoffrey Berman will testify before Congress “because I think he has a lot to say about a continuing pattern of chaos, crisis and corruption that we have seen from the Trump administration.” https://t.co/n0lcA5Reyx pic.twitter.com/pb6R8pIz2q
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 21, 2020’
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries says he hopes former U.S. attorney for SDNY Geoffrey Berman will testify before Congress “because I think he has a lot to say about a continuing pattern of chaos, crisis and corruption that we have seen from the Trump administration.” https://t.co/n0lcA5Reyx pic.twitter.com/pb6R8pIz2q
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 21, 2020
This interview was completed before Trump actually sent the SDNY Geoff Berman the letter that formally fired him on Saturday. As a result, all sorts of questions arose about what Trump had to do with Barr’s Justice of Department (DOJ).
At first, the department said Berman was going to be “stepping down” from his job, which was news to Berman. He said he had no plans to leave. He would not resign unless a Senate-approved replacement had been selected.
With Berman’s refusal to step down, Barr had few choices left to him. After all, he could not legally fire the attorney from SDNY. Instead, he asked Trump to formally fire Berman.
In addition, the SDNY had been looking into one of the president’s fixers, former Mayor of the New York City Rudy Giuliani. It had already prosecuted the original fixer, Michael Cohon and other friends of the president.
Cohon used up all of his chits when he turned state’s evidence before the House Intelligence Committee.
Bolton noted that POTUS turned to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and said that he would “take care of this:”
‘And the president said to Erdoğan at one point, ‘Look, those prosecutors in New York are Obama people. Wait till I get my people in, and then we’ll take care of this. And I thought to myself — and I’m a Department of Justice alumnus myself. “I’ve never heard any president say anything like that. Ever.”‘
The former national security adviser pointed out that if a US bank had violated the sanctions against Iran, there was a big problem. There was no doubt about Bolton’s war hawk tendencies about Iran:
‘[W]e would have toasted them and quite properly so.”
Bolton added that Attorney General (AG) William Barr:
‘[s]aid Attorney General William Barr allowed for the appropriate prosecution of the bank after Turkey wouldn’t agree to a “reasonable settlement.’
Then, Raddatz asked him if he believed this act was “criminal” or “high crimes and misdemeanors” (the bar to reach impeachment). He responded:
‘I don’t think I know enough about all the circumstances, but I tell ya, it did feel like obstruction of justice to me.’
The BuzzFeed News had a letter that showed Barr letting Berman know he had asked the president to formally fire him, given the attorney would not step down until the Senate approved his replacement. Barr wrote:
”Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service. 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.’
The AG informed Berman that his assumption that Berman had to wait until the pending cases were appropriately settled was simply not true. He also alleged the AG would get involved should pending cases be flagged for the iI]nspector General. Barr continued:
‘This is obviously false. I fully expect that the office will continue to handle all cases in the normal course and pursuant to the Department’s applicable standards, policies, and guidance.’
After considering Barr’s for several hours, Berman released his statement indicating he would leave “effective immediately.” Barr decided not to install one of Trump’s golf-playing buddies. Instead, he said that Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss would temporarily fill his position. This was the tradition succession. Berman wrote:
‘I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s.’
The White House decided it would nominate the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Jay Clayton to fill the permanent position.
Saturday, the president spoke to reporters about Berman being fired. Trump responded that he was “not involved” in the matter of firing Berman:
‘That’s [Barr’s] department, not my department. That’s really up to him. I’m not involved.’
Bolton’s people released a clip of the interview on Saturday (below). The complete interview will air on ABC at 9 p.m. Sunday evening:
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.