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For Barr, Standoff With Prosecutor Adds to String of Miscues

President Trump has distanced himself from the ousting of the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, set in motion by Attorney General William P. Barr.

The result was that...

The result was that Mr. Barr looked as though he had acted without the full backing of the president. He also ended up agreeing to install Mr. Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, as the acting U.S. attorney instead of his preferred pick, Craig Carpenito, now the top federal prosecutor for New Jersey.

“As attempted power plays go, this was an abject failure and served only to further undermine the credibility of both the attorney general and the president,” said Greg Brower, a former federal prosecutor who once headed the F.B.I.’s congressional affairs office.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment for this article.

Even when a judge made favorable statements about the possibility of a legal victory for Mr. Trump this month, it was eclipsed by the Berman debacle. A federal judge ruled[1] that the former national security adviser John R. Bolton may be in jeopardy of forfeiting his $2 million advance or even be prosecuted for failing to scrub classified information out of his new book[2], as Justice Department lawyers had argued that he was legally required to do.

But the judge refused to order copies of the political memoir seized, noting that more than 200,000 of them were already in the hands of booksellers by the time the department acted. The reasons the department filed so long after the books had been distributed to booksellers are not clear, but days before the judge ruled, the department’s division that was handling the case suddenly found itself rudderless.

Joseph H. Hunt, the chief of the civil division, suddenly resigned[3] without even informing Mr. Barr, who had sometimes bypassed him to deal directly with his deputies. Mr. Barr’s penchant for closely managing his staff and impatience with what he sees as too much deliberation have grown in recent weeks, according to department employees who have sat in on meetings with him.

Mr. Hunt’s departure also seemed to emphasize the risks of handling cases involving Mr. Trump’s associates in Mr. Barr’s Justice Department. Other federal prosecutors have either resigned or withdrawn from criminal prosecutions of Mr. Trump’s former aides after Mr. Barr intervened to drop charges or seek lighter punishment.


  1. ^ federal judge ruled (
  2. ^ his new book (
  3. ^ suddenly resigned (

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