In stunning Friday night statements, President Donald Trump said he will nominate Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton to replace Geoffrey Berman as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan — but Berman promptly said he will not leave until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.
The extremely unusual standoff involves high stakes, as Berman has shown a willing to investigate associates of Trump, including two of the president’s own lawyers.
“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney,” Berman said in a written statement that also was posted by his office’s Twitter account.
“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,” he said. “I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”
“Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption. I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor – and intend to ensure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded.”
There had been no previous indication that Berman was leaving the prestigious post of the SDNY U.S. attorney, voluntarily or otherwise.
Many legal observers were stunned late Friday when Attorney General William Barr said Berman was “stepping down,” and that Trump would nominate Clayton to replace him.