(CBS News)– Attorney General William Barr announced Friday that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who had investigated some of President Trump’s associates, will be stepping down. But Geoffrey Berman said in a statement late Friday that “I have not resigned” and that he learned that he was “stepping down” via a press release.
“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,” Berman 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.”
An individual familiar with the events told CBS News that Barr had met with Berman Friday in New York and asked him to resign. Berman said no. Later in the day Barr said in a statement released by the Justice Department that Berman was stepping down.
Berman oversaw the investigation into Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer who pleaded guilty in November 2018 to charges of lying to Congress, and Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, another personal attorney for Mr. Trump, was the attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 until 1989.
Berman also oversaw the investigation into convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who died in an apparent suicide in jail while facing federal sex trafficking charges.
Earlier Friday, Barr said that Mr. Trump intended to nominate Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, for the role. Barr added that on his recommendation, Mr. Trump appointed Craig Carpenito, currently the United States attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve while the Senate is considering Clayton’s nomination.
Berman was appointed to be the interim United States attorney in Manhattan by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, although Mr. Trump never sent Berman’s nomination to the Senate. After 120 days, he was nominated by U.S. District judges.
Berman’s predecessor Preet Bharara, who held the position through the Obama administration, was fired when he refused to resign. “I did not resign,” Bharara said on Twitter in March 2017. “Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
— Pat Milton and Andy Triay contributed reporting.