Late Friday night U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced that President Trump intends to nominate SEC Chairman Jay Clayton as the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, replacing Geoffrey Berman.
In his statement, Barr said Berman is “stepping down” after two and a half years on the job without providing any details. But in a bizarre turn of events, Berman responded soon after that he had not resigned and had no intention of leaving office until “a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”
In his response, posted on the Southern District of New York website, Berman said that he learned of his “stepping down” in Barr’s press release.
Berman has led investigations into several close associates of Trump, including Michael Cohen, and is currently investigating Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani. He was never confirmed by the Senate but after 120 days on the job was formally appointed to the post by judges of the U.S. district court, which he noted in his statement in his refusal to step down.
There were no statements posted on the SEC site about the administration’s intention to nominate Clayton to succeed Berman nor on the site of the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito, whom Barr said would succeed Berman temporarily while the Senate considers Clayton’s nomination.
Clayton has led the SEC since May 2017 and was previously a partner in the New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, representing leading financial institutions including banks and hedge funds such as Goldman Sachs and Pershing Square Capital Management. He is a securities attorney and has never served as a prosecutor.