House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said that he’s sure that Geoffrey Berman, until this week the U. S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, will testify before the committee. That may not happen at a scheduled hearing on Wednesday. On the other hand … it might. But the word is that Nadler wants someone else to appear: He intends to subpoena Attorney General William Barr to explain how, with five months left in Trump’s term, there’s a possible reason for removing a U. S. attorney in the middle of critical investigations of Trump associates, which is not corrupt.
And Republicans are already making it very, very clear they have an opinion in this matter. That opinion being—Barr shouldn’t talk. Because if he talks, they get to go into the home stretch of the election season, with yet another high-publicized hearing in which they have to protect the schemes of Barr and Donald Trump. Rather than pretend that they don’t hear anything wrong, they’d really rather not hear anything to start with.
Just the rumor that Nadler intends to subpoena Barr was enough to get Jim Jordan to wrestle up some paper and pin down a letter. In what may be the most amusing example of projection not coming directly from Trump, Jordan accuses Nadler of having a “partisan posture” toward Barr by, you know, wanting him to ask him things. Jordan also finds it just outrageous that Nadler would think there was anything at all to see in Barr announcing the resignation of a U. S. attorney who had not resigned, or saying that Trump had fired that attorney, when Trump denied it.
Barr directly and deliberately lied to the public at least twice in the removal of Berman. That much is absolutely self-evident.
Those lies only bolster the suspicion is Barr acted to remove a competent U. S. attorney who had demonstrated that he would impartially proceed against Trump’s associates despite having been appointed to his role by Trump. Berman had previously conducted the investigation of Michael Cohen, leading to the conviction of Trump’s personal attorney and the discovery of the scheme in which Trump entrapped at least two women to keep them from recounting his sexual encounters with them. It was known that Berman is looking into Trump’s current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, along with his associates, in part because of the schemes conducted in Ukraine to solicit false testimony against Joe Biden. If Berman was removed to prevent further pursuit of the case against Giuliani, or others associated with Trump, then his removal is a clear act of obstruction. And there’s every indication that Berman wasn’t just investigating Giuliani, but Trump and Trump’s companies.
Barr’s team has already leaked an excuse—they weren’t removing Berman to get rid of Berman, they were doing so to “provide a job” to Barr’s friend Jay Clayton. However, this excuse also demands that Barr appear and defend this actions. First off, Clayton is a corporate attorney, has zero prosecution experience, and is utterly unqualified to take on a key, demanding role that involves investigation and prosecution of some of the most complex financial and criminal conspiracies on the planet. Secondly, Clayton already had a job as chair of Trump’s Securities and Exchange Commission—which makes the whole excuse seem like an excuse.
Jim Jordan may already be sweating in advance, but Barr has to explain himself. And Democrats need to be prepared to back a subpoena with content … and contempt with action.