Former Cabinet nominee Kerik resigns from Giuliani's consulting firm


NEW YORK - Bernard Kerik may still be a friend of Rudy but he's no longer a Giuliani partner.

Kerik, a former New York police commissioner, resigned yesterday as senior vice president of Giuliani Partners less than two weeks after his nomination for secretary of the Homeland Security Department imploded.

In a street-corner news conference, a pale and shaken Kerik said he was quitting immediately to spend time with his family, finish his second book and "clear my good name" after weeks of damaging personal and professional revelations.

"I haven't been to a gym probably in six months," Kerik, 49, said in front of the Pierre New York Hotel. "I want to get that out of the way, get back in the gym."

Kerik, after apologizing to President Bush and Giuliani, left without taking questions.

The widely expected resignation culminated a stunning plunge from grace that began with the city's former top cop standing next to Bush and ended with him facing the cameras alone on a damp Midtown street corner.

Giuliani, who skipped Kerik's announcement, addressed reporters outside the firm's Times Square offices a half-hour later. He emphasized his sadness over the decision.

"I think he made the right decision," Giuliani said. "Did I encourage, him, push him or whatever? No, I did not. It came from Bernie."

Giuliani said Kerik, who has earned millions of dollars since joining the firm in 2002, also quit because he "couldn't focus any attention on the business."

Kerik had offered to resign several days ago. Giuliani accepted Kerik's resignation on Tuesday, after it became clear that the storm surrounding Kerik wouldn't quickly dissipate, said former city Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen.

Kerik's name was quietly removed from the list of executives on the firm's Web site shortly after Giuliani spoke. Giuliani-Kerik LLP, the division of the firm that employed him, will be renamed Giuliani Security & Safety, according to the company.

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