Now that Geoffrey Berman says he can’t be fired as the U.S. Attorney for SDNY, the matter is going to be decided by the courts. Everything we see from both sides in the meantime will be pure posturing for the sake of trying to scare the other side to cave, or trying to establish a legal basis for winning the inevitable court battle. That said, Donald Trump and Bill Barr are not off to a good start.
This afternoon Bill Barr sent a letter to Geoffrey Berman, informing him that Donald Trump has officially fired him. This letter doesn’t really mean anything, as Berman has a strong legal argument that he can’t be fired – and again, the courts will decide all of this not some magic wand maneuver by either side.
But at almost the exact same time as Barr sent his letter, Donald Trump told reporters that he’s “not involved” in the decision of whether to fire Berman. This contradiction serves to undercut the legal argument that Trump and Barr will end up making in court, as they can’t even get their story straight about which one of them is attempting to fire Berman.
In any case, realistically speaking, Geoffrey Berman is neither fired nor non-fired right now. If both sides stick to their position, it’ll end up in court. The question will be whether the courts are willing to immediately remove Berman, or whether they’ll leave him in place while deciding the case. If it’s the latter, it’s effectively a win for Berman, who is attempting to keep his job until the long slow Senate confirmation process plays out for his successor.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report