A federal prosecutor who initially refused to resign after Attorney General William Barr tried to force him out has now stepped down. In a statement late Saturday, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said he would be leaving “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.” Berman's departure comes after a chaotic 20 hours in which Barr apparently launched a public pressure campaign to force Berman out, blindsiding him with a statement late Friday announcing his resignation and then, after Berman refused to leave, declaring that President Donald Trump himself had fired him.
Berman, who led many of the high-profile investigations into Trump’s associates, initially said he would refuse to leave until a replacement was confirmed by the Senate. Barr wrote in response on Saturday, “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.” He said Berman misunderstood the legal underpinning of his appointment. President Trump, speaking on the South lawn of the White House, told reporters that the decision was in Barr’s hands. “I'm not involved,” he said.