Judge Napolitano: Probes of Trump associates 'will probably continue' after firing of SDNY federal prosecutor

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said Monday that investigations of Trump associates “will probably continue” even after the firing of the district attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY).

Napolitano weighed in after Attorney General William Barr informed New York's top prosecutor Geoffrey Berman that President Trump had removed him from his post. Berman will be replaced by Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss until a permanent successor is in place.

“The attorney general didn't give a reason for firing him,” Napolitano told “America’s Newsroom.”

In a letter to Berman obtained by Fox News, Barr said he asked Trump to fire Berman after the Manhattan U.S. Attorney said Friday he planned to stay on the job against the Trump administration's wishes. Trump, however, distanced himself from Berman's ouster Saturday, saying it was Barr's call.

"That's all up to the attorney general," Trump said when asked about Berman's firing. "Attorney General Barr is working on that. That's his department, not my department."


Napolitano noted on Monday that the president “generally” has the authority to remove a U.S. attorney.

“I say generally because the president can fire someone, a U.S. attorney that has been nominated by himself or one of his predecessors and confirmed by the Senate,” Napolitano explained.

“However, Mr. Berman was not nominated by President Trump or any of his predecessors. He was appointed for 120 days by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and at the end of that 120 days was appointed by a vote of the federal district court judges in New York City.”

Napolitano went on to point out that the question is if the president can "fire someone who has become the U.S. attorney by a judicial appointment, and the answer is yes and no.”

He explained that “one statute says yes and another statute says no.”

“A lot of us wish that [Geoffrey] Berman, a very highly respected apolitical person in the law enforcement community, had pressed this so that the courts would give us a definite answer,” Napolitano said.

“Whatever the answer is, [Geoffrey] Berman himself was persuaded that the president, by some means, could force him out and so late on Saturday night after resisting the attorney general's efforts to get him to leave voluntarily, he did leave voluntarily.”

He went on to note that Strauss, who he called “a serious career DOJ lawyer with great respect all around,” will “probably continue with those same investigations that [Geoffrey] Berman until this past weekend had been heading.”

Democrats have accused the Trump administration of trying to shut down Berman, who is leading investigations into the president's allies in New York.

New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that his hope is “at some point, the Judiciary Committee will hear from the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Mr. Berman because I think he has a lot to say about a continuing pattern of chaos, crisis and corruption that we have seen from the Trump Administration from the very beginning until this very day.”

Host Sandra Smith asked Napolitano, “What would we learn if we do eventually hear from Berman?”

Napolitano said he didn’t know what Berman would say, but added that “the [Geoffrey] Berman that I know will probably respect the confidentiality of the investigations that the office is managing as we speak.”


Napolitano noted that “there has been great speculation that the reason for the firing was because the president didn't want his attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who once had the job from which [Geoffrey] Berman resigned two days ago, to be in the crosshairs of the Department of Justice.”

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.