Attorney General Jeff Sessions is naming 17 interim U.S. attorneys to run federal prosecutor shops across the country, including the premier office in Manhattan.
Geoffrey S. Berman, a law partner of Rudolph W. Giuliani at the firm Greenberg Traurig and a former federal prosecutor, was named to the interim post at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which handles some of the most high-profile cases in the country, according to a release from the Justice Department.
His appointment was announced along with 16 others, which Sessions said were necessary because those serving on an acting basis had reached the maximum amount of time they would be permitted to do so under federal law unless Sessions extended them.
“As a former U.S. attorney myself, I have seen firsthand the impact that these prosecutors have and it is critical to have U.S. attorneys in place during this time of rising violent crime, a staggering increase in homicides, and an unprecedented drug crisis,” Sessions said in a statement. “That is why, today, I am appointing 17 current and former federal prosecutors to serve as U.S. attorneys on an interim basis. Each has excellent prosecution skills and the temperament necessary to succeed in this critical role — and they have already proven that with a number of accomplishments on behalf of the American people.”
President Trump ultimately must nominate, and the Senate must confirm, leaders to fill each of the 93 U.S. attorney jobs across the country. In March 2017, the president suddenly removed dozens of Obama-era holdovers, leaving their top deputies to assume leadership roles while Trump contemplated his own picks.
So far, Trump has nominated 58 people, 46 of whom have been confirmed by the Senate. Sessions’s picks are not considered presidential nominees and could ultimately be replaced by Trump.
The office in Manhattan is particularly important because, with 220 assistant U.S. attorneys, it is one of the largest in the country and its prosecutors handle some of the country’s most high-profile terrorist and financial crimes cases. The former U.S. attorney there, Preet Bharara, was particularly prominent and notably did not step down immediately when asked to by Trump with 45 others in March. He is now the host of a podcast “Stay Tuned with Preet” and is often publicly critical of Trump.
Berman reportedly met with Trump about serving as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan late last year, and Bharara said that when the president personally interviewed him and other U.S. attorney candidates in districts where Trump had property or business interests, it “raises a number of questions.” Bharara himself, though, had met with Trump after the election, a meeting in which Trump asked Bharara to stay in the position and Bharara agreed.
The other 16 U.S. attorneys Sessions named included Nicola T. Hanna, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles and San Diego, for the Central District of California; Richard Donoghue, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, to head that office; Matthew Schneider, the chief deputy attorney general in Michigan for that state’s Eastern District; Timothy Garrison, a prosecutor in the Western District of Missouri to head that office; Craig Carpenito, a partner at Alston & Bird for the District of New Jersey; and Grant Jaquith, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York to head that office.
Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.