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 name Mr. Trump — as “Individual-1” — in court documents in the Cohen prosecution.
When Mr. Barr became attorney general, officials in the deputy attorney general’s office, which oversees regional prosecutors, asked him to rein in Mr. Berman, who they believed was exacerbating the Southern District’s propensity for autonomy. The office has embraced its nickname the “Sovereign District” of New York because of its tradition of independence.
One particular point of contention was the question of how Mr. Berman and his staff should investigate Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank that the office indicted last year, according to one department and two current lawyers.
In a new book, John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, wrote that Mr. Trump had promised the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in 2018 that he would intervene in the investigation of the bank, which had been accused of violating sanctions against Iran.