Former Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman claimed Monday that former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department pressured him to remove any references to the then-commander-in-chief in connection with the campaign finance fraud case involving Trump’s onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“On the eve of Cohen’s guilty plea, main Justice tried to get our office to remove any reference to Individual-1, who was President Trump,” Berman told “Good Morning America.”

“They were unsuccessful in that venture,” Berman added to host George Stephanopoulos. “And they were unsuccessful in every attempt to politically interfere with our office. We held the line in every instance.”

Cohen had pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in August 2018 after admitting his role in hush money payments he made to porn actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal shortly before the 2016 presidential election to prevent them from disclosing affairs they claimed to have had with Trump.

In court documents connected with the case, prosecutors repeatedly referred to an “Individual-1” who they said had coordinated and directed the payments from Cohen to the women. The person was not named, but the prosecutors’ descriptions left no doubt they were referring to Trump.

Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference April 23, 2019, in New York
Former Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman claimed the Justice Department told him to remove references to Donald Trump in the Michael Cohen case.
AP/Mary Altaffer

Two months later, Cohen also pleaded guilty in a separate case to a charge of lying to Congress about a real-estate deal with the Russians that he was trying to broker on behalf of Trump during the 2016 election in order to protect his then-client. Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail and was released from home confinement in November of last year.

Berman, who was dramatically fired by Trump in 2020, sat down for the interview to promote his new book “Holding the Line,” which hits shelves Tuesday. In the book, Berman reportedly detailed efforts by the Justice Department to investigate former Secretary of State John Kerry for allegedly attempting to undercut the Trump administration by keeping in contact with Iranian officials after the US pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“I had never seen anything like that before,” Berman said. “People who had been in the office for 40 years never saw anything like that. It was unprecedented and scary.”

Michael Cohen, former President Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer, arrives at Federal Court in New York, on Nov. 22, 2021.
Michael Cohen, former President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations in August 2018.
AP/Lawrence Neumeister

Berman said the pressure to prosecute Kerry came a day after Trump fired off two tweets in 2019 accusing Kerry of violating the Logan Act, which prevents private citizens from interacting with foreign governments without permission, after Kerry said he had spoken to Iranian officials since leaving office.

“That was truly outrageous,” Berman said of the request to prosecute Kerry.

“President Trump attacks John Kerry in two tweets saying that Kerry engaged in possible illegal conversations with Iranian officials regarding the Iran nuclear deal,” he continued.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Sept. 3, 2022.
Trump dramatically fired Berman in 2020.
AP/Mary Altaffer

“The very next day, the Trump Justice Department refers the John Kerry criminal case to the Southern District of New York. Two tweets by the president and the John Kerry criminal case becomes a priority.”

“The statute they wanted us to use was enacted in 1799 and had never been successfully prosecuted,” Berman added. “So in about 220 years this criminal statute was on the books, there were no convictions.”

Berman — whose office investigated multiple cases involving the then-president’s associates — also claimed the DOJ had asked him to “even things out” by prosecuting a Democrat after successfully prosecuting Cohen and former Republican Congressman Chris Collins.

John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate speaks immediately after a press conference given by China's Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit.
The Justice Department wanted to investigate former Secretary of State John Kerry for allegedly attempting to undercut the Trump administration, Berman claims.
AP/Alberto Pezzali

“The Justice Department told us, ‘Hey, you have just indicted two allies of the president, Chris Collins, who is a Republican congressman from upstate New York, and Michael Cohen, who was the president’s lawyer and fixer, and it’s time for you guys to even things out and indict a Democrat before the midterm election,’” Berman said.

“It was something we never heard or seen before.”

The Justice Department declined to comment on the claims in Berman’s book.



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