Former Manhattan Federal Prosecutors Condemn Trump Firing of U.S. Attorney Berman

More than 160 former Manhattan federal prosecutors have signed an open letter condemning President Donald Trump’s firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

U.S.Attorney Geoffrey Berman

“We, all former U.S. Attorneys and Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of New York, deplore the recent actions of President Trump and Attorney General Barr in summarily firing U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman without cause,” the prosecutors wrote.

“The actions of the President and the Attorney General are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner,” the former prosecutors wrote. “They are politicizing an office that for more than 200 years has remained apolitical, and are undermining confidence in our criminal justice system. We call on our elected officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – to take all appropriate action to protect the administration of justice in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere from this kind of political interference.” 

“Founded in 1789, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York was the first federal attorney’s office in the young country and for over 200 years has stood for the independence of the administration of Justice – independent of political and personal interests of the Executive branch of the Government and independent of other special interests,” they wrote.  “It was, for example, a Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney who prosecuted former members of Richard Nixon’s cabinet and a Democratic-appointed U.S. Attorney who prosecuted one of the most powerful Democrats in the State. The impartial administration of Justice is what distinguishes the United States from authoritarian regimes around the world and is fundamental to our democracy. The President and the Attorney General have put this long and important tradition at risk.” 

Former national security advisor John Bolton told ABC News that President Trump had intervened in a federal prosecution out of the Southern District of New York of a Turkey state bank – Halkbank – for evading sanctions against Iran.

Halkbank was charged in October 2019 in a six-count criminal indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Bolton told ABC there were a number of conversations between the president and Erdogan of Turkey on the subject of Halkbank.

“What Erdogan wanted was basically a settlement that would take the pressure off Halkbank,” Bolton said in his interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz. “And the president said to Erdogan at one point — look, those prosecutors in New York are Obama people. Wait till I get my people in and then we’ll take care of this.”

“And I thought to myself – and I’m a Department of Justice alumnus myself – I’ve never heard any president say anything like that. Ever.” 

Bolton told Raddatz that the prosecution has continued despite the president’s alleged conversation with Erdogan. 

He said he found the episode “disturbing” as an example of the president’s belief he could intervene in the justice system under the influence of a foreign leader.

“I don’t think I know enough about all the circumstances, but I tell ya, it did feel like obstruction of justice to me,” Bolton said. “The president has enormous power in the law enforcement area. The executive power is vested in the president.”

“This idea that you give Erdogan and his family, who use Halkbank like a slush fund — in exchange for, what, some hope down the road of some other kind of treatment for Trump or the country — was very troubling,” Bolton said.

Here is a listing of the former Manhattan federal prosecutors who signed the letter condemning the firing of Berman:

1 Jonathan S. Abernethy

2 Elkan Abramowitz

3 Robin E. Abrams

4 Nick Akerman

5 Daniel S. Alter

6 Rich Appel

7 Allen Applbaum

8 Antonia M. Apps

9 Robin L. Baker

10 Celia Goldwag Barenholtz

11 Lisa Baroni

12 James J. Benjamin Jr.

13 Richard Ben-Veniste

14 Kim Berger

15 Neil S. Binder

16 Christina Paglia Bischoff

17 Barry A. Bohrer

18 Megan L. Brackney

19 Alvin Bragg

20 Laurie E. Brecher

21 David E. Brodsky

22 Stacey Brodsky

23 Alan J. Brudner

24 Jacob W. Buchdahl

25 George S. Canellos

26 Katherine Choo

27 John Clopper

28 Steven M. Cohen

29 Jonathan Cohen

30 Glenn Colton

31 William Craco

32 Jenna Dabbs

33 Frederick T. Davis

34 Richard Davis

35 Michael Devorkin

36 Cynthia Keeffe Dunne

37 Amie N. Ely

38 Christian R. Everdell

39 Ira M. Feinberg

40 Zachary Feingold

41 Edward T. Ferguson

42 Michael Ferrara

43 Harris Fischman

44 Stephen Fishbein

45 Eric B. Fisher

46 Robert B. Fiske Jr.

47 Thomas Fitzpatrick

48 Robert W. Gaffrey

49 Margaret Garnett

50 Michael Gilbert

51 Joshua A. Goldberg

52 Daniel Goldman

53 Andrew Goldstein

54 Katherine R. Goldstein

55 Christine Gray

56 Marc Greenwald

57 Nicole Gueron

58 Samidh Guha

59 Jason P.W. Halperin

60 Kenneth V. Handal

61 Nola B. Heller

62 Mark R. Hellerer

63 Jason Hernandez

64 Brian Jacobs

65 Elliott B. Jacobson

66 Douglas Jensen

67 Hon. Barbara Jones (Ret.)

68 Nancy Kestenbaum

69 Edward Y. Kim

70 David Koenigsberg

71 William C. Komaroff

72 Karen Konigsberg

73 Glen A. Kopp

74 Amanda K. Kramer

75 Paul M. Krieger

76 Debbie Landis

77 Douglas M. Lankler

78 Mark Lanpher

79 Christopher LaVigne

80 Alan Levine

81 Nick Lewin

82 Jon Liebman

83 Sarah E. Light

84 Andrea Likwornik

85 Robin Linsenmayer

86 Marc Litt

87 Jeffrey E. Livingston

88 Ellen London

89 W. Cullen MacDonald

90 Daniel Margolis

91 Richard W. Mark

92 Kathy S. Marks

93 John S. Martin

94 Rebecca C. Martin

95 David B. Massey

96 Manvin Mayell

97 Sarah Thomas Mayhew

98 Douglass Maynard

99 Glen McGorty

100 Brendan McGuire

101 Robert McGuire

102 Amy E. Millard

103 Julian J. Moore

104 Ross Morrison

105 Sara Moss

106 Jay K. Musoff

107 Daniel Nardello

108 Jaimie L. Nawaday

109 Kan M. Nawaday

110 Lynn Neils

111 Peter Neiman

112 Rosemary Nidiry

113 Michelle Parikh

114 Tai Park

115 James J. Pastore

116 Allison Penn

117 Danya Perry

118 Guy Petrillo

119 Ryan Poscablo

120 Henry Putzel III

121 Pablo Quiñones

122 Kevin S. Reed

123 Emily Reisbaum

124 Lee Renzin

125 Lee S. Richards III

126 Rebecca Ricigliano

127 Mimi Rocah

128 Jennifer Rodgers

129 Virginia Romano

130 Marc Rosenbaum

131 Daniel Ruzumna

132 Elliot G. Sagor

133 Ross Sandler

134 Edward Scarvalone

135 Kenneth I. Schacter

136 Andrew W. Schilling

137 Wendy Schwartz

138 William J. Schwartz

139 Paul L. Shechtman

140 Sarah L. Shudofsky

141 Peter M. Skinner

142 Deitrich L. Snell

143 Michael Sommer

144 Alexander H. Southwell

145 Shane Stansbury

146 Charles A. Stillman

147 Jonathan R. Streeter

148 Daniel B. Tehrani

149 K. Chris Todd

150 Jeffrey A. Udell

151 Niketh Velamoor

152 Franklin B. Velie

153 Peter Vigeland

154 Hadassa R. Waxman

155 Justin S. Weddle

156 Andrea Likwornik Weiss

157 Avi Weitzman

158 Jonathan A. Willens

159 Milton Williams

160 Frank H. Wohl

161 Russell Yankwitt

(Story updated June 30, 2020 to add names of former prosecutors who signed the letter after we published the original story. List grew from 135 to 161.)

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