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U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Image

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman released a statement late Friday night indicating he has "no intention of resigning," and will "step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate."

Why it matters: Berman said he learned of his own departure when Attorney General Bill Barr put out a press release earlier Friday evening announcing Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton had been nominated for the position and that Berman would be "stepping down."

  • The Manhattan U.S. attorney oversees one of the highest profile districts in the country, and has supervised probes involving President Trump, his campaign and a number of his ex-associates.
  • Berman's office has been conducting a criminal investigation into Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in a campaign finance case, The Washington Post reports. Two of Giuliani's associates have already been charged in the investigation.
  • Federal prosecutors have investigated Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen and sex offender Jeffery Epstein under Berman's leadership.

Yes, but: Berman "is almost uniquely positioned to resist efforts to oust him, at least for a while," the Post writes, given that he was appointed by a federal court in his district. Some legal precedents suggest that only that court can remove him until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate.

The big picture: Friday night's attempt to push Berman out brings "new attention on the efforts by Mr. Trump and his closes aides to rid the administration of officials whom the president views as insufficiently loyal," The New York Times writes.

  • It also raises questions about whether Barr "has undercut [the Justice Department's] tradition of independence from political interference."

What Berman's saying:

“I 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, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
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.”

Go deeper

Updated Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mitt Romney says he'll support moving forward with Supreme Court pick

Photo: Greg Nash/AFP/Pool via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he would support moving forward with a Senate vote on President Trump's selection to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Why it matters: Barring any big surprises, Democrats have virtually no shot at stopping the confirmation process for the president’s nominee before November’s election.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.