Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman has written an “in your face” new book in which he torches former President Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr. He calls Barr stupid, a liar, a bully, and a thug. And he blames Barr for unfairly having him fired by Trump.
“Several hours after Barr and I met,” Berman writes, “on a Friday night, Barr issued a press release saying that I was stepping down. That was a lie. A lie told by the nation’s top law enforcement officer.”
Berman’s book is titled: “Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and its Battle with the Trump Justice Department.” He writes that Barr wanted him gone from his position in New York so that he could get a more compliant person in his powerful seat.
In the book, Berman describes a series of encounters he had with Barr including the prosecution of Michael Cohen, and the Halkbank investigation. This investigation focused on Turkish bankers and government officials helping Tehran get around the Iran nuclear deal.
He wrote that Barr was, “always eager to please his boss, appeared to be doing Trump’s bidding” by pressuring Berman to drop charges.
In June 2019, Berman said that he was called to a meeting where Barr told him the Halkbank case “implicates foreign policy” and, “his voice … steadily rising”, asked: “Who do you think you are to interfere?”
Berman said that he had seen bullies work before, “I would describe Barr’s posture that morning as thuggish. He wanted to bludgeon me into submission,” he said.
And then in June of 2020, Berman was once again “summoned” to a meeting with Barr at the Pierre hotel in New York City. In describing this meeting, he goes on a rabbit trail to highlight Barr’s obvious aspirations for more power. Berman speculates at this point that Barr wanted to be Trump’s secretary of state in his 2nd term.
At this meeting, Barr told Berman that he wanted to make a change in the southern district in New York. Berman knew what was coming next given the way he saw the administration move in the investigations of Trump aides Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. He knew that Barr wanted him to resign so that he could immediately be replaced with an outsider that could be trusted.
Berman turned down Barr’s offer. Barr wasn’t finished, he suggested that if Berman moved to the DOJ civil division, it could be leveraged so that he made more money after leaving the government.
When things still didn’t go Barr’s way, he threaten to fire Berman.
Berman wrote that he “thought to myself, what a gross and colossal bully this guy is to threaten my livelihood.” But he did not agree to do what Barr was asking even when Barr offered to help him lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Berman didn’t believe that was a job Barr could offer. It has to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Berman said that he agreed to talk with Barr again, but no decision was made that night.
That night, Barr issued a press release that said Berman had agreed to resign.
“It was a lie, plain and simple,” Berman writes. “I clearly told him I was not stepping down. Barr [was] the attorney general … in addition to being honest, he should be smart. And this was really stupid on his part – a complete miscalculation … he should have known at this point that I was not going to go quietly.”
Berman wraps up this story by saying that he was fired because he was seen as a “threat to Trump’s re-election.”
It will be interesting to see if both Trump and Barr respond to these highly charged allegations by Berman.