U.S. Attorney for Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman speaks to reporters on October 10, 2019, after two associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, were arrested on charges that they schemed to funnel foreign money to politicians to affect U.S.-Ukraine relations. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
July 9 (UPI) -- Geoffrey Berman, a Justice Department official who was fired by President Donald Trump nearly three weeks ago, will testify about his dismissal before the House judiciary committee on Thursday.
Berman's firing as leader of the department's Manhattan office, was clouded in mystery last month. U.S. Attorney General William Barr initially announced Berman had resigned but officials later said he'd refused to do so and was fired by the president the following day, June 20.
Thursday's hearing seeks to clarify the circumstances of his firing. Democratic lawmakers have complained that the Justice Department has become more politicized under Trump and his attorney general.
Berman's testimony Thursday is private and comes ahead of a public appearance by Barr before the judiciary committee on July 28.
Berman's office had investigated some of Trump's associates, including his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and two former Giuliani business associates.
Former deputy Audrey Straus is now acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York after Barr initially tried to appoint Craig Carpenito, the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, to the post.
The judiciary committee heard testimony last month from a former Justice Department prosecutor who quit the Roger Stone case in February after Barr stepped in and overruled a sentencing recommendation, a highly rare move, after prosecutors' initial recommendation was criticized by Trump as excessive.
At the hearing, committee Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler acknowledged Berman's removal.
"The effort to remove Mr. Berman is part of a clear and dangerous pattern of conduct that began when Mr. Barr took office and continues to this day," he said, referring to Barr as "the president's fixer."
"He has shown us that there is one set of rules for the president's friends and another set of rules for the rest of us."