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Meet the Conflicted Team that Could Prosecute Trump-Russia Charges

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Geoffrey Berman, Interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Geoffrey Berman, Interim U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

According to former FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump asked him for a personal loyalty pledge. Comey didn’t give it. Comey was fired by Trump. Trump has also made repeated remarks to suggest that his view of what is supposed to be an independent U.S. Justice Department is rather one that functions as his personal Praetorian Guard, protecting him while prosecuting or firing his perceived enemies – a roster that is growing exponentially by the day.

Given that background, the recent appointments at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are particularly alarming. U.S. Attorney offices across the United States prosecute the criminal and civil cases in their jurisdiction in which the United States is involved. Because Donald Trump’s questionable business dealings and campaign activities occurred mainly in New York, and he has a residence there at Trump Tower, it is most likely that this would be the U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuting any charges of crimes brought against him, his businesses or his family.

Given Trump’s past demands for loyalty, alarm bells sounded earlier this month when Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the U.S. Justice Department, announced that he was naming Geoffrey Berman to replace Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney for the SDNY on an interim basis. Trump had fired Bharara 20 hours after Bharara had declined to return a phone call to Trump that he feared would involve an inappropriate request from the president.

Berman has been able to skip Senate confirmation due to his interim appointment and would serve for 120 days as U.S. Attorney at the SDNY unless he is formally nominated for the position, in which case he would have to undergo Senate confirmation.

Public records at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) might provide the basis for Trump’s belief in the loyalty of Berman. According to those records, Berman donated $5400 to Trump’s campaign on July 28, 2016. At the time of his appointment, Berman was also a fellow shareholder and law partner of Rudy Giuliani at Greenberg Traurig. Berman has worked there for more than a decade. (Giuliani is a Trump ally and loyalist.) Berman’s LinkedIn profile shows that he remains a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig.

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