“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position,” Mr. Berman’s statement said. He added that he had learned of Mr. Barr’s actions only from the news release.
In one sign that Mr. Barr’s efforts may have been hastily arranged, even the man poised to take Mr. Berman’s place, Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, appeared to be caught off guard.
Mr. Clayton, who is friendly with Mr. Trump and has golfed with the president at his club in Bedminster, N.J., had recently signaled to his friends that he wanted to return to his home in New York City and was interested in Mr. Berman’s job.
Still, Mr. Clayton sent an email to his staff on Thursday saying that he looked forward to seeing them in person, once work-at-home restrictions that had been put in place because of the coronavirus could be lifted. The email offered no indication that Mr. Clayton was planning to leave the S.E.C., according to a person briefed on it.
Just after midnight on Saturday, Mr. Clayton sent another email to his employees, telling them about his new position. “Pending confirmation,” he wrote, “I will remain fully committed to the work of the commission and the supportive community we have built,” according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times.
Mr. Clayton could not be reached for comment.
Before Mr. Barr released his statement, Mr. Berman pointedly showed up to work on Saturday, arriving at his office in Lower Manhattan carrying a brown leather briefcase and clad in a blue suit. He was met outside the squat gray concrete building by a handful of photographers and television crews. “I’m just here to do my job,” he said, before walking inside.
Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has long believed that the Southern District was out of control. In no small part that was because prosecutors delayed in warning their colleagues in Washington that they were naming Mr. Trump — as “Individual-1” — in court documents in the Cohen prosecution.