Attorney General’s Decision to Fire U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and Lie About it Underscores Need for Congress to Subpoena and Impeach Him

Statement of Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause

Last night Attorney General William Barr lied to the American people in an official Department of Justice (DOJ) press release announcing that Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was “stepping down” from his position. Berman responded quickly with a statement explaining that he had just “learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position[.]” 

Berman has served as a ray of hope for the rule of law in a DOJ that has shamefully been converted into a partisan protection machine for President Trump. Berman showed appropriate independence and integrity when he successfully prosecuted Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for crimes detailed in multiple complaints Common Cause filed with the DOJ early in 2018. Berman has also prosecuted associates of Trump and Rudy Giuliani at the center of the Ukraine scandal, all named in a complaint Common Cause filed with the DOJ last year—with investigation of Giuliani reportedly ongoing. 

Common Cause called for William Barr’s impeachment in December 2019 and we renew that call today. Barr’s attempted Friday night firing of Berman is yet another example of Barr’s willingness to damage our nation’s system of justice to protect President Trump and the Republican Party. Americans expect and deserve an Attorney General who enforces the law impartially, not one who abuses his office to accommodate the whims of a President who believes he has unlimited power. Barr has turned a proud and honorable Justice Department into a political tool of a corrupt presidency. 

Congress cannot allow these abuses to stand. Barr had been scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, but the hearing was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The House of Representatives must subpoena Barr and require him to testify and turn over all relevant documents regarding his tenure undermining the impartiality and integrity of the DOJ, including his mishandling of the Mueller report, his mishandling of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, his decision to drop the prosecution of Michael Flynn, his current effort to remove U.S. Attorney Berman, and other matters.