Donald Trump and Bill Barr took a major swing this weekend at immediately installing their own lackey as the Acting U.S. Attorney for the SDNY, which could have allowed all of the Manhattan-based criminal cases against Trump and his friends to be shoved under the rug. Trump and Barr failed, as Geoffrey Berman did resign, but he managed to install his own respected Deputy Audrey Strauss as Acting U.S. Attorney in his place. Now she’s quickly coming out swinging.
In a criminal case that doesn’t appear on the surface to have anything to do with Donald Trump, but does take a stab at the right wing hate groups who love Trump, the SDNY has charged a U.S. Army soldier with conspiring with a Neo-Nazi group to launch an attack on the Army. A couple of things stand out here.
First, this criminal case didn’t suddenly surface out of thin air. The DOJ press release says that the SDNY has been working on the case since May, and in fact arrested the suspect back on June 10th. So this was a case that Berman and Strauss have been overseeing all along. But the timing of the announcement leaps off the page. Strauss is announcing these charges on her very first day as Acting U.S. Attorney, which doesn’t feel like a coincidence. It feels like she’s looking to establish her position by coming out swinging immediately.
If that is indeed the case, then it’s not a good sign for Donald Trump. He and Bill Barr chose this particular time to try to install their own guy at SDNY for a reason. They must fear that charges against people close to Trump are coming soon. Now that they’ve failed, and the new head of the SDNY is coming out swinging, there’s not much Trump can do but wait to see who gets popped and when.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report