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In SDNY Berman Says He Will Leave Since Barr Says Deputy Strauss Will Replace Him

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source

SDNY COURTHOUSE, June 20 – Geoffrey S. Berman was late June 19 announced to be leaving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York - not by himself but by the DOJ, which said Jay Clayton of the SEC would be nominated to replace Berman.

  But right after, Berman said he "has not resigned," and will not until a “presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate."

   Then June 20, Attorney General Barr wrote  to Berman, "Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service... I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so." Audrey Strauss will now be temporary acting U.S. attorney. Barr noted that he had offered Berman other positions in the administration, including head of the Civil Division at Main Justice.

  Berman declined the offer and was subsequently fired. But by Trump? He says he was not involved.

But Barr said Deputy US Attorney Strauss would take over. And that seems to have been enough. At 5:55 pm from Berman, this: "“In light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting U.S. Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately.  It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as this District’s U.S. Attorney and a custodian of its proud legacy, but I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s.  She is the smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer with whom I have ever had the privilege of working.  And I know that under her leadership, this Office’s unparalleled AUSAs, investigators, paralegals, and staff will continue to safeguard the Southern District’s enduring tradition of integrity and independence.”

 For now we note, because others haven't, the ethical issues that have been raised by SDNY Judge Alison Nathan about the Office's non compliance with Brady leading to the dropping with prejudice of the sanctions violations guilty verdicts against Iranian banker Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, on a Venezuelan housing project, here.

Inner City Press, which closely covers the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (as well as the EDNY, IMF and UN) immediately wondered what having an ex-SEC chairman might mean for cases in the SDNY like those against Telegram, or alleged North Korea sanctions violator Virgil Griffith. 

  But now, of course, there are other questions. Watch this site.

 But while we will be reporting on this going forward it's worth noting mid-fight Geoffrey Berman's hands-on approach, seen most recently in the Coronavirus pandemic.

 In March, when many had already fled the courthouse at 500 Pearl Street and Inner City Press was alone in the back row of the Magistrates Court on the fifth floor, in came Berman, to check out how presentments work.  

Not much before, he had slipped into a Bronx drug murder case that only Inner City Press was covering, to witness the rare cross examination of the defendant who took the stand. He spoke, too, on the elevator.  

One improvement, whoever is in for the next months, that could and should be brought would be the automatic provision of the exhibits the SDNY prosecutors use in trials, when they resume. This has still not been done in the OneCoin case, despite a FOIA request from Inner City Press. And why is the case against Honduras' El Tigre Bonilla, announced April 30, still sealed?

These and other issues will be continued to be raised. Watch this site.


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