Barr makes another U.S. Attorney change in New York, this time in Brooklyn

Seth D. DuCharme is sworn in as the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
Seth D. DuCharme is sworn in as the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York at Brooklyn Federal Courthouse by United States Chief District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf in New York City, U.S. July 10, 2020. United States Attorney?s Office for the Eastern District of New York/Handout via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.

Weeks after pushing Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman out of his post, Attorney General William Barr changed the leadership Friday at the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office — with far less drama.

Barr named U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, head of the Justice Department’s Eastern District of New York office, to serve under him as principal associate deputy attorney general. Donoghue is trading jobs with Seth D. DuCharme, who will take Donoghue’s place at the Brooklyn-based office as acting U.S. attorney.

DuCharme previously served as counselor to Barr between March and December 2019. A graduate of the Fordham University School of Law in 2003, DuCharme had a stint at the Eastern District office which began in March 2008, working in the General Crimes, Violent Crimes and Terrorism, and National Security and Cybercrime Sections.

“Seth has served the Department with distinction during his time at Main Justice,” Barr said in a Friday statement. “He is a talented and experienced prosecutor who manages with a steady hand. His experience in prosecuting violent crime, terrorism, and public corruption, will serve him well in his return to New York to lead the office.”

Donoghue had served the Eastern District since January 2018. He was not quoted in announcements about his departure, or his promotion to his new post.

“I am deeply honored to return to my home in the Eastern District of New York to serve as the Acting United States Attorney,” said DuCharme. “Applying all of my experience over the many years living here and working alongside some of the most outstanding people in the Department of Justice, I am firmly committed to serving our community and our country to the highest standards and in the finest tradition of this Office.”

The transition in Brooklyn seemed to go much more smoothly than the change Barr ordered at the Southern District of New York office back on June 19. 

That evening, Barr announced that Berman was stepping down from his Southern District of New York office — which came as a surprise to Berman, who took to Twitter to deny that he was leaving.

On June 20, President Trump, at Barr’s urging, fired Berman for the apparent insubordination. Hours later, Berman announced he would accept his dismissal after learning that his top deputy at the Southern District office, Audrey Strauss, would serve as acting U.S. Attorney.

The episode raised concerns that Barr actively sought to remove Berman from the post in an effort to blunt further investigative proceedings involving Trump associates. The Southern District had investigated, and is in the process of investigating individuals connected to President Trump, including former personal attorney Michael Cohen and Trump’s current personal counsel, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

On Thursday, Berman testified before the House Judiciary Committee that Barr had pressured him to quit the Southern District office. He claimed that Barr told him that if he didn’t depart and was fired, it would “not be good for my resume or future job prospects.”

Burr is slated to testify before the same committee, chaired by Manhattan/Brooklyn Congressman Jerry Nadler on July 28.