Archives for category: Corruption

Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator from Rhode Island, gave a masterful presentation on the power of dark money at the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Please take 30 minutes and watch it. If we don’t put a stop to the power of dark money, we will lose our democracy.

Senator Whitehouse names names. He details the “Scheme,” the money trail, the big donors (where they can be identified) who are buying our democracy and choosing Supreme Court Justices.

Their three big legal goals right now: to overturn Roe v. Wade; to overturn the gay marriage decision; to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The Republicans are rushing through Judge Barrett’s confirmation so that she can be a member of the Supreme Court when Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) is argued on November 10.

The former principal of a closed charter school in Arizona was sentenced to 3.75 years in prison for participating in a scheme to loot $2.5 million by inflating enrollment. The principal was a high school graduate, which is okay in Arizona, where credentials don’t matter. The principal and his associates forged documents for phantom students.

Craig Harris of the Arizona Republic wrote:


The former principal of a closed West Valley charter school was sentenced to 3.75 years in prison on Monday, after pleading guilty to engaging in a $2.5 million enrollment-inflation scheme.

Harold Cadiz, 56, expressed contrition and took responsibility for his actions before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jay Ryan Adleman, but Cadiz placed much of the blame on two co-defendants who also face prison sentences in the fraud case.

“I’m tremendously sorry,” Cadiz said. “The state is so short-funded for kids, and for this to happen is appalling … The state has suffered because of my involvement. I knew it was wrong.”

Cadiz, who has a high school education, said he was “dragged” into the scheme. Charter schools, unlike traditional school districts, do not require advanced degrees for those running the publicly funded but privately operated campuses.

Cadiz’s plea deal with the state Attorney General’s Office had called for a prison sentence of between 3 and 12½ years with up to 7 years of probation, but Adleman settled on the lower ended and ordered that Cadiz also be placed on 5 years of probation after his release from prison. Cadiz and the two other defendants also must repay $2.5 million.

The judge noted in making his sentencing decision that there were mitigating factors, including that Cadiz was not personally enriched from the scheme other than keeping his job at the charter school.

Two sheriff’s deputies took Cadiz into custody immediately after the roughly 30-minute hearing in downtown Phoenix.

Cadiz is the first Discovery Creemos Academy executive to face prison time. Three former executives admitted to defrauding the state and federal governments by inflating the Goodyear charter school’s enrollment numbers by hundreds of students from 2016 to 2018.

Arizona public schools are funded based on their enrollment, meaning each additional student a school reports to the state brings more tax dollars.

Former Vice Principal Joann Vega is slated to be sentenced Sept. 23. She faces up to 8.75 years in prison.

Daniel Hughes, the former president and CEO of the charter school, is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 16.

Harris says that Hughes is likely to get a sentence of five years in prison.

I have posted many times about the corruption embedded in the for-profit virtual charter industry. The founder of Pennsylvania’s largest virtual charter school was sentenced to prison for misappropriating $8 million. The single biggest scam in U.S. history involved an online charter chain in California called A3, whose owners managed to make $50 million in state funding disappear. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) in Ohio collected $1 billion over its nearly two decades, its owner paid his companies for supplying services, he made generous gifts to elected officials, but ECOT declared bankruptcy in 2018 to avoid repaying the state for phantom students. The stories of corruption, embezzlement, and scamming go on and on.

Therefore I was delighted to find this excellent summary by journalist Florina Rodov, who gathers many of the scandals and research reports in one place to demonstrate the woeful failure of virtual charters. As she points out, the virtual charter industry has beefed up its already massive marketing budget to take advantage of the pandemic and try to gather market share.

One detail that I found fascinating was the link to executive compensation for K12 Inc., the for-profit virtual chain that has the largest enrollment in the nation. The top five executives receive a total of $28 million in compensation. Beats teaching!

She begins:

“Instead of going to school every morning, what if school could come to you?” an ad asks enticingly, promising students “online personalized learning” tailored to their specific needs. It’s one of hundreds of active Facebook ads run by K12 Inc., the largest for-profit virtual charter school provider in the United States. As public schools rose to the challenge of educating students online during the pandemic, corporations like K12 Inc., whose stock price has been climbing since mid-March, were licking their chops at the prospect of moving kids online permanently. Though virtual charter schools perform dismally academically and are plagued by scandal, the goal is for them to replace traditional brick-and-mortar public schools in an effort to privatize education. While this would harm students, it would most egregiously damage Black and Latino children, who’ve already been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, due to structural inequities such as lack of access to computers and internet service, as well as inconsistent health care and crowded housing.

The article has many important links and I urge you to read it in full. The virtual charter industry has the full-throated support of Betsy DeVos, who lied about their results at her confirmation hearings in 2017, claiming they had 100% graduation rates, when their graduation rates are abysmal.

David Dayen covers the daily news, usually related to the coronavirus crisis. This post is about political corruption, or the giant swamp surrounding Trump. As usual, open the post to read the links.
Dayen writes:

Straw Postman

Let’s check in on our favorite Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy. When we last left our hero, he was implementing policy changes at the post office that were demonstrably slowing down the mail. It was just as clear that this was a political influence operation to seek long-desired privatization goals, which just happened to align with a presidential election dependent on mail-in voting amid the pandemic.

Donald Trump has shut up about the post office now that his plot was discovered, but the House is continuing to investigate. And they were fed a gem about DeJoy’s origins as a postmaster fixer. According to the Washington Post, DeJoy engaged in a straw donor operation. He would force employees to give to Republicans and then reimburse them with bonuses later. This led to his rise in standing within the party as a donor, and his appointment to USPS to degrade its functions. Straw donor schemes are a felony; the former head of the school board in Los Angeles [Ref Rodriguez] had to step down over something similar, and pleaded out to avoid jail time.

The denouement of this saga comes with Trump saying he’d support an investigation into DeJoy’s actions. Loyalty is a one-way street for Trump, so no surprise there. The speed with which DeJoy went from unassuming appointee, to architect of one of the fulcrum points of the election, to persona non grata, however, is bracing.

The New York Times published a detailed investigation that explained how the Trump administration, acting through the Treasury Secretary, took control of the United States Postal Service and politicized it by selecting an unqualified Trump donor as Postmaster General. This is par for the course, as Trump has put unqualified Trump loyalists in charge of every agency.


WASHINGTON — In early February, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin invited two Republican members of the Postal Service’s board of governors to his office to update him on a matter in which he had taken a particular interest — the search for a new postmaster general.

Mr. Mnuchin had made clear before the meeting that he wanted the governors to find someone who would push through the kind of cost-cutting and price increases that President Trump had publicly called for and that Treasury had recommended in a December 2018 report as a way to stem years of multibillion-dollar losses.

It was an unusual meeting at an unusual moment.

Since 1970, the Postal Service had been an independent agency, walled off from political influence. The postmaster general is not appointed by the president and is not a cabinet member. Instead, the postal chief is picked by a board of governors, with seats reserved for members of both parties, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for seven-year terms.

Now, not only was the Trump administration, through Mr. Mnuchin, involving itself in the process for selecting the next postmaster general, but the two Democratic governors who were then serving on the board were not invited to the Treasury meeting. Since the meeting did not include a quorum of board members, it was not subject to sunshine laws that apply to official board meetings and there is no formal Postal Service record or minutes of what was discussed.

Nearly six months later, that meeting, along with other interactions between Mr. Mnuchin and the postal board, has taken on heightened significance as the Trump administration confronts allegations it sought to politicize the Postal Service and hinder its ability to handle a surge in mail-in ballots in November’s election. In interviews, documents and congressional testimony, Mr. Mnuchin emerges as a key player in selecting the board members who hired the Trump megadonor now leading the Postal Service and in pushing the agenda that he has pursued.

Mr. Trump’s animus toward the agency dates to at least 2013, but his criticism of its finances escalated once he took office and found new focus in late 2017, when he first bashed it for essentially subsidizing Amazon, another target of his ire. Amazon’s founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post, whose coverage has often angered Mr. Trump.

“This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” the president wrote on Twitter on March 31, 2018, one of several such attacks over the years.

Twelve days later, he issued an executive order putting Mr. Mnuchin in charge of a postal reform task force. But it was not until earlier this year that the administration found a way to enforce its postal agenda — one that has now collided with the pandemic and the approaching election.

A few weeks after the February meeting with Mr. Mnuchin, one of the attendees, Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the board of governors, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, threw a new name for postmaster general into the mix: Louis DeJoy.

Mr. DeJoy, a longtime logistics executive, was known for his hard-charging leadership style and his ability to convert disorganization into efficiency, as well his generous donations to the Republican Party, including to Mr. Trump. In October 2017, Mr. DeJoy had hosted a fund-raiser for the president’s re-election campaign at his North Carolina home.

His résumé was far different than recent postmasters general, most of whom had risen through the Postal Service ranks. Megan J. Brennan, who had announced in October 2019 her intention to retire as postmaster general at the end of January, began her career as a letter carrier in Pennsylvania.

Mr. DeJoy, who ran New Breed Logistics before selling it to XPO Logistics in 2014, would be coming from the private sector to assume control of a highly unionized, sprawling bureaucracy with more than half a million employees. His companies had experience working with the Postal Service, moving bulk shipments of packages from fulfillment centers and ferrying them to local Postal Service centers. But both companies had fewer than 10,000 employees, none of them unionized, and he had never worked in the public sector.

The companies were also the subject of a litany of complaints from workers, including more than a dozen lawsuits accusing managers — but not Mr. DeJoy personally — of presiding over a hostile environment rife with sexual harassment and racial discrimination and where workers were fired for getting sick or injured.

The board’s vice chairman at the time, David C. Williams, raised concerns about Mr. DeJoy’s candidacy and Mr. Mnuchin’s involvement, telling lawmakers during sworn testimony this week that he “didn’t strike me as a serious candidate.” Mr. Williams, a Democratic appointee, resigned before the vote as it became clear that Mr. DeJoy would be the pick.

Three months after the meeting in Mr. Mnuchin’s office, the board of governors announced Mr. DeJoy’s selection as the nation’s 75th postmaster general. Within weeks, he began carrying out changes, including cuts to overtime and limiting mail delivery trips. He curtailed postal hours and mandated that carriers must adhere to a rigid schedule. A July memo from the Postal Service warned that the changes might temporarily result in “mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks.”

The measures matched up with recommendations in the task force report, which blamed the Postal Service for losing billions because of waste, inefficiency and a failure to respond to declining mail volumes.

But the rapid-fire moves just months before the November election concerned Postal Service insiders, who said that, since at least the Obama administration, the agency had generally sought to avoid significant changes within two or three months of a general election.

Soon, mail was piling up at post offices, veterans were not receiving their medications, bills were arriving late and questions began surfacing about the ability of the Postal Service to handle what is expected to be a record number of mail-in ballots this November because of the pandemic.

Amid an outcry from lawmakers, civil rights groups and state officials, Mr. DeJoy suspended many of the changes on Tuesday, including some that had been underway before he took the helm of the Postal Service. Yet he made clear during a Senate hearing on Friday that he planned to move ahead with “dramatic” measures after the election, including raising prices and limiting overtime.

Postal Service employees and union officials say significant damage has already been done. Hundreds of mail-sorting machines have been removed, and the day-to-day changes have caused confusion and delays among drivers, carriers and other workers.

In his Senate testimony on Friday, Mr. DeJoy chalked that up to growing pains as the organization tries to get leaner. “We all feel, you know, bad” he told lawmakers upset about mail delays affecting their constituents..

Over the last two years, Mr. Mnuchin met privately on multiple occasions about postal matters with Mr. Duncan, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who was confirmed by the Senate as a postal board member in August 2018, according to people familiar with the meetings.

Mr. Mnuchin also arranged a meeting with John M. Barger, a California lawyer and financial investment adviser who was recommended to the Treasury secretary by a mutual associate who knew of Mr. Barger’s work as chairman of the board of the Los Angeles County pension fund. After a meeting in Washington, Mr. Mnuchin recommended that Mr. Trump appoint Mr. Barger to the board of governors.

Mr. Barger was confirmed by the Senate last summer, and was tapped to lead the committee to select a new postmaster general. He attended the February meeting in Mr. Mnuchin’s office with Mr. Duncan.

S. David Fineman, a former member and chairman of the Postal Service’s board, called Mr. Mnuchin’s close involvement in the affairs of the Postal Service “absolutely unprecedented.”

During his tenure in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, he said the board had minimal interaction with the administrations, and “certainly no communication regarding the hiring of the postmaster general.”

Dabs Milbank is a regular opinion writer for the Washington Post. In this post, he reminds us of the numerous Trump allies who have been arrested or indicted or convicted or pardoned. So much for “Draining the Swamp.” What a joke! Trump’s Swamp is bigger and badder than anyone else’s.

He writes:

As Donald Trump’s chief strategist in 2016, Steve Bannon helped shape Trump’s “America First” campaign. Now, Bannon is inadvertently helping to test Trump’s 2020 reelection message: “Me First.”

On the eve of this week’s Republican National Convention, federal authorities arrested Bannon aboard a Chinese billionaire’s $28 million, 152-foot yacht and charged Bannon and three other men with defrauding donors giving to a private effort to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Bannon and his alleged co-conspirators had promised donors that “not a penny” would go to the organizers and “100 percent” would go to the wall. Instead, they allegedly used donations for such things as home renovations, boat payments, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, cosmetic surgery, personal tax payments, credit-card debt, travel, hotels and consumer goods. Bannon allegedly squirreled away $1 million for himself and another organizer, much of it funneled through a nonprofit Bannon created called Citizens of the American Republic, ostensibly devoted to “economic nationalism and American sovereignty.” To top it all off: The small section of the wall the group did build was so poorly done that it is now in danger of falling into the Rio Grande.

Give Bannon credit: The alleged fraud perfectly captures the cynicism and self-dealing among leaders of the American right at this moment. As the president seeks reelection, the moral rot of Trump and his retinue has spread to the core.

At the National Rifle Association, chief executive Wayne LaPierre and other leaders have drained millions of dollars from the organization, the New York attorney general alleged this month, much of it for private jets, security, yachts in the Bahamas and personal payouts.

On Tuesday, Jerry Falwell Jr. said he had resigned as president of Liberty University, which he had used as a forum to vouch for Trump’s moral integrity and religious bona fides. Falwell acknowledged a multiyear affair in which he is accused of watching his wife have sex with a pool boy.

On Monday, the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, reported that the Trump Organization has refused to hand over some documents and that Eric Trump canceled an interview with prosecutors looking into whether the company paid proper taxes when a lender forgave more than $100 million of debt on a Trump hotel in Chicago.

Separately, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., continues to seek Trump’s financial records as part of an investigation into payoffs made in 2016 to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump — and potentially into Trump business dealings.

Last week, a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort (now doing prison time over his ill-gotten gains), was a “grave counterintelligence threat” because his receptivity to Russian outreach during the campaign made the Trump campaign vulnerable to “malign Russian influence.”

These developments are on top of former adviser Roger Stone’s prison sentence (which Trump commuted); former Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea (which Trump’s Justice Department wants dismissed); the upcoming trial of two associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; and former Trump aide Michael Cohen’s three-year prison sentence for what he called “my duty to cover up his dirty deeds.”

But the biggest swindle happens in front of our eyes: a president using his office to promote his business properties around the world, to push for tax policies that benefit his businesses, and to pressure foreign countries to help his campaign.

Former national security adviser John Bolton attributes our current pandemic woes to the president’s pursuit of self-interest: Trump ignored early warnings “because he didn’t want to concede that the pandemic . . . could have a dramatically negative impact on the U.S. economy and therefore his ticket to reelection.”
At the convention this week, we see Trump stripping the GOP of policy (the party declined to approve a platform) and replacing it with a cult of personality. He has stacked the speaking program with members of his family, his friends and himself — nightly. The lead consultant to the convention? A guy who produced “The Apprentice” for Trump and was a judge for Trump’s Miss Universe pageant.

Trump is using federal property — the White House itself — as a political backdrop for his campaign. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, using Israel as his campaign backdrop, is one of a host of officials violating laws and rules in ways previously unimaginable to play overtly political roles in the convention.
With Trump in charge, is it any wonder those around him are also taking a “Me First” approach? The same day as Bannon’s yacht-deck arrest last week, We Build the Wall posted a picture of Trump on Facebook. Written across the photo: “The Most Honest Man in Washington!”

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin writes in The New Yorker that Trump’s pardon of convicted felon Roger Stone proves that Trump is worse than Nixon. Nixon worries about appearances. Trump never does. Trump is shameless. He flaunts his lack of ethics and his complete indifference to norms.

On March 21, 1973, President Richard Nixon and John Dean, the White House counsel, conferred in the Oval Office about ways to keep the Watergate scandal from consuming the Administration. The two men weighed the possibility of a pardon or commutation for E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. “Hunt’s now demanding clemency or he’s going to blow,” Dean said. “And, politically, it’d be impossible for, you know, you to do it.” Nixon agreed: “That’s right.” Dean continued, “I’m not sure that you’ll ever be able to deliver on clemency. It may be just too hot.” Neither Nixon nor Dean had especially refined senses of morality or legal ethics, but even they seemed to understand that a President could not use his pardon power to erase charges against someone who might offer testimony implicating Nixon himself in a crime. To do so, they recognized, would be too unseemly, too transparent, too egregiously corrupt. And, in fact, Nixon never gave a pardon, or commuted a sentence, of anyone implicated in the Watergate scandal.

But, on Friday night, Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, his associate and political mentor of more than three decades. Last year, Stone was convicted of obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, and witness tampering in a case brought by Robert Mueller, the special counsel. William Barr, the Attorney General, had already overridden the sentencing recommendation of the prosecutors who tried the case—a nearly unprecedented act—and Stone was ultimately sentenced to forty months in prison. But Barr’s unseemly interference in the case was somehow not enough for the President, so Trump made sure that Stone would serve no time at all. The only trace of shame in Trump’s announcement was that he delivered it on a Friday night—supposedly when the public is least attentive.

This just in from federal officials:

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 17, 2020
Former Head of Community Preparatory Academy Admits Stealing Over $3 Million and Spending $220,000 on Disney Expenses

LOS ANGELES – Federal prosecutors today filed criminal theft and tax fraud charges against the former executive director of a charter school outfit who stole more than $3.1 million that should have been spent on school operations, but instead financed a lifestyle that included extravagant spending on Disney cruises and theme park admissions.

Janis Bucknor, 52, a resident of Baldwin Hills, who ran the for-profit Community Preparatory Academy (CPA) charter school and controlled several related entities, agreed to plead guilty to two felony offenses in a plea agreement also filed today in United States District Court. CPA operated two schools, one in Carson and one in South Los Angeles.

The case charges Bucknor with one count of theft, embezzlement and intentional misapplication of funds from an organization receiving federal funds, and one count of tax evasion for the tax year 2016. The court has yet to schedule any hearings in this matter.

Over the course of approximately 5½ years – from early 2014 through November 2019 – Bucknor stole a total of $3,168,346 from CPA, according to the most recent estimate of losses in the case. The amount of stolen funds is nearly one-third of all federal and state funding that went to CPA during the time.

In her plea agreement, Bucknor admitted using the stolen funds to pay for, among other things, personal travel, restaurants, Amazon and Etsy purchases, and private school tuition for her children. She also admitted spending about $220,614 on Disney cruise line vacations, theme park admissions and other Disney-related expenses.

The scheme began to unravel in February 2018, when “LAUSD-Charter School Division’s routine audit of CPA revealed that defendant used the CPA accounts for personal expenses, including unauthorized payments directly from some of the CPA accounts to Disney, Louis Vuitton, Girl Scouts, Ticketmaster, Uber, Baby Teeth Children’s Dentistry, Williams Sonoma, National American Miss pageants, and Forest Lawn Mortuaries, all of which were for defendant’s own personal and unauthorized use and benefit,” according to the plea agreement.

In relation to the tax evasion offense, Bucknor agreed to plead guilty to her 2016 taxes, but she admitted failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service $299,639 in taxes when she failed to report $1,322,254 in income for the tax years 2015 through 2018.

When she pleads guilty, Bucknor will face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

As part of the plea agreement, Bucknor has agreed to forfeit to the government her interest in three residential properties in South Los Angeles that were paid for with funds stolen from the charter school.

This case was investigated by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Katherine A. Rykken and Alexander C.K. Wyman of the Major Frauds Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Galatzan and Katharine Schonbachler are handling the asset forfeiture part of the matter.

Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York—the most prestigious federal prosecutor in the nation other than the U.S. Attorney General—has announced that he refuses to step aside until the Senate confirms his replacement.

CNN reported:

Washington (CNN)Geoffrey Berman, the powerful US attorney for the Southern District of New York who has investigated a number of associates with ties to President Donald Trump, said he will not leave his post shortly after the Department of Justice announced late Friday night he was stepping down.

Berman issued a statement saying that he learned of his exit from a press release.

“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate,” Berman said in an extraordinary statement. “Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption.”

Berman’s rebuttal came about an hour after the Department of Justice announced Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has never been a prosecutor.

A Justice Department official told CNN that Berman was offered other positions at Justice, including the head of the civil division, where assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt abruptly announced his departure this week. Berman declined. Barr asked Berman to resign in an in-person meeting in New York on Friday, the source said.
A second source with knowledge of the matter said Berman was asked to resign and refused.

Berman’s unexpected exit is likely to draw scrutiny inside the US attorney’s office and among career prosecutors. He had been the US attorney for Manhattan since 2018, and under his leadership, his office prosecuted Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, is investigating top Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani and indicted the former New York mayor’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

Tensions between the New York and Washington offices have grown with Berman and Barr butting heads over the handling of some cases, including the indictment of Turkish bank Halkbank.

Last fall, Justice Department officials discussed replacing Berman with Ed O’Callaghan, a senior official, but then prosecutors indicted the Giuliani associates, a move that appeared to extend Berman’s tenure.
The timing of the move, announced shortly before 10 p.m. ET, immediately raised questions about the circumstances regarding Berman’s departure.

Preet Bharara, a CNN senior legal analyst who was fired by Trump as US attorney for the Southern District shortly after Trump took office in 2017, told CNN’s Don Lemon that the late-night announcement was a “highly irregular thing to do … when there are all sorts of investigations swirling around.”

If confirmed, Clayton would be the first person to hold the position who had no experience as a prosecutor.

Perhaps this is Barr’s or a Trump’s attempt to shut down ongoing prosecutions.

Late on Friday, Attorney General William Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose aggressive investigations into the Trump orbit had annoyed Trump. When politicians want to do dirty deeds, they do it late on Friday, when the press is not watching closely. Trump usually fires independent Inspectors General late on Fridays.

The New York Times reports:

The Justice Department on Friday abruptly ousted the United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, the powerful federal prosecutor whose office sent President Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to prison and who has been investigating Mr. Trump’s current personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

The announcement that Mr. Berman would be replaced was made with no notice by Attorney General William P. Barr, who said the president intended to nominate as Mr. Berman’s successor Jay Clayton, current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Barr asked Mr. Berman to resign but he refused so Mr. Barr fired him, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump had been discussing removing Mr. Berman for some time with a small group of advisers, the person said.

Mr. Berman has taken an aggressive approach in a number of cases that have vexed the Trump administration, from the prosecution and guilty pleas obtained from Mr. Cohen to a broader investigation, growing out of that inquiry, which focused on Mr. Trump’s private company and others close to him.

Over the last year, Mr. Berman’s office brought indictments against two close associates of the president’s current lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and began an investigation into Mr. Giuliani himself, focusing on whether his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities.

Mr. Berman’s office also conducted an investigation into Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, subpoenaing financial and other records as part of a broad inquiry into possible illegal contributions from foreigners.

Mr. Berman’s abrupt removal came just days after Mr. Trump’s former National Security adviser, John Bolton, alleged in his new book that Mr. Trump sought to interfere in an investigation by Mr. Berman’s office into a Turkish bank, in a bid to cut deals with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Mr. Trump has been upset with Mr. Berman ever since the Manhattan prosecutor’s office pursued a case against Mr. Cohen, according to a person familiar with their relationship.

Mr. Berman declined to comment on the move to replace him. The announcement came late on a Friday night, a time of day when government officials sometimes release information so that it does not attract widespread attention.

The United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is perhaps the most prestigious federal prosecutor’s post in the country.