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Politics Fired federal Manhattan prosecutor argued Trump didn't have legal authority to remove him

03:25  14 july  2020
03:25  14 july  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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President Trump has been attacking the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome H. Powell Most senior government officials are subject to political control by Mr. Trump because he can fire them at Even if Mr. Trump were to demote Mr. Powell, the president might not succeed in removing him from

Fired US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said he did not believe President Donald Trump had the authority to remove him, but he agreed to step aside once his deputy was named acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Berman told a congressional committee last week.

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images) © Stephanie Keith/Getty Images NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announces charges against Jeffery Epstein on July 8, 2019 in New York City. Epstein will be charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee released a transcript of Berman's two-hour closed-door interview, in which the former Manhattan federal prosecutor spoke about his conversations with Attorney General William Barr surrounding his dismissal -- but would not discuss any specific cases or why he thought Barr pushed to replace him.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York City prosecutors are very likely to obtain President Donald Trump 's tax returns after a major U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but it may not happen before the Nov. 3 election if he argues in lower courts as expected that their request was too broad and made in bad

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"Once I was confident that the investigations could go on unimpeded under (the) deputy US attorney, who would now be acting US attorney, Audrey Strauss, I stepped away," Berman told the committee. "This was never a fight about me or for me or for me to keep my position. My sole goal was to ensure that the investigations would not be impeded."

Berman said he did not know why Barr was trying to remove him, but argued that Barr's actions raised "serious concerns" and would have been disruptive to the office and potentially resulted in the resignation of prosecutors under him.

"I don't know what the Attorney General's motives were, but the irregular and unexplained actions by the Attorney General raised serious concerns for me. In addition, the imposition of an acting United States attorney from outside of the office, as I explained, would necessarily delay and disrupt the ongoing investigations."

Trump Taxes Likely Going to Manhattan D.A., But Maybe Few Others

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Both subpoenaed Trump ’s accounting firm or banks for his financial records (though only New York state prosecutors demanded Trump ’s tax returns as well). In response, Trump ’s lawyers argued that a sitting president should be immune from both requests.

The Manhattan district attorney demanded the records in late August as part of an investigation The judge said Mr. Trump ’s lawyers were, in essence, arguing that the president Longstanding policy from the Justice Department bars federal prosecutors from charging a sitting president with a crime.

Berman's closed-door testimony comes ahead of the House Judiciary Committee's public hearing with Barr later this month. Democrats have charged that Berman's firing is only the latest case where Barr politicized the Justice Department by taking actions to benefit Trump. The Southern District of New York has investigated a number of rump's associates, though Republicans pointed out that Barr did not raise any specific cases with Berman during their conversation last month when Barr asked Berman to resign.

Berman declined to answer numerous questions from both sides, including about any specific cases or events beyond his firing last month.

In his opening statement, which was reported last week, Berman said Barr's initial plan to replace him with New Jersey US Attorney Craig Carpenito as acting US attorney in Manhattan was "unprecedented, unnecessary and unexplained." Berman was fired after initially publicly refusing Barr's request for him to resign.

Ousted U.S. prosecutor says Barr urged him to resign: reports

  Ousted U.S. prosecutor says Barr urged him to resign: reports Ousted U.S. prosecutor says Barr urged him to resign: reportsBerman, who left as his office continued a probe into President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, was warned by Barr that if he did not leave and was fired, it would “not be good for my resume or future job prospects," CNN said, citing his statement.

The former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan , who resigned last month under He also suggested that Barr was prohibited from removing him because he was appointed by judges to fill the post, the Barr blasted Berman in a subsequent statement and then obtained Trump ‘s authority to fire him.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York City prosecutors are very likely to obtain President Donald Trump 's tax 3 election if he argues in lower courts as expected that their request was too broad and made in Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is seeking eight years of Trump 's business and

Berman, as a court-appointed US attorney, argued that Barr -- and Trump -- could not fire him, and he spoke to outside attorneys after his initial conversation with Barr. Republican staffers questioned that position, pressing him on a Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel opinion and past court cases, Berman argued they did not have binding authority over SDNY.

"Certainly it's not binding authority on the Southern District of New York. And I think those two cases you cited were wrongly decided," Berman said.

Berman said he was prepared to litigate the matter if Barr had tried to appoint an outside official to lead the office.

"Did anyone tell you that you had a great likelihood of success on the merits if you were to litigate?" asked Steve Castor, an attorney for Republicans on the committee.

"I liked my chances," Berman responded.

Trump lawyers say they'll fight subpoena for president's tax returns .
Trump's legal team said it has other objections to the district attorney's subpoenaIn a status report filed with a federal district court in New York, Trump's legal team said it has other objections to the district attorney's subpoena aside from the one struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this month.

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