Democrats and their media allies exploded over the removal of Geoffrey Berman from his position as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York last month, and have insinuated that his ousting was illegal.
But ranking Republican Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that Geoffrey Berman’s testimony to Congress revealed no evidence of wrongdoing by Attorney General Bill Barr, The Washington Times reported. Berman gave his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door hearing on Thursday.
In fact, Jordan said that Berman had failed to reveal “any specific wrongdoing, misconduct or other impropriety” committed by Barr, despite what might be heard from Democrats on the committee or media pundits who were fed tidbits of information in leaks from the private hearing.
Berman’s opening statement leaked
Axios was one of the media outlets that received leaked information from the closed-door hearing and summed up the details from Berman’s version of events regarding his ousting from the Southern District of New York.
Based on Berman’s written opening statement, which was obtained by multiple media outlets, the top prosecutor had been asked by Barr to step aside and clear the top spot in the office for someone that President Donald Trump wanted to appoint to the position. According to Berman, the attorney general allegedly offered up a couple of other high-ranking positions in the administration that Berman could transfer to as compensation for leaving the New York office.
Berman refused, however, and following some back-and-forth — which included a Justice Department press release announcing his resignation, followed by a public statement from Berman refusing to leave, which resulted in his being fired the next day — he ended up resigning after it was agreed that his top deputy would take over for him.
Nadler alleges crimes, Jordan says nothing happened
Democrats such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) — who have been searching for reasons to remove Barr from office — have insisted that the attorney general acted unlawfully in the removal of Berman.
“The attorney general repeatedly attempted to entice Mr. Berman to step down voluntarily, even after Berman made clear that his leaving would disrupt certain sensitive cases,” Nadler told reporters on Thursday, according to The Times. “We don’t know yet if the attorney general’s conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery.”
But Jordan suggested Barr had simply attempted to transition Berman to another position in order to clear a spot for Trump’s preferred person for the job — an attempt that was refused and unnecessarily publicized by Berman.
“Berman dug in and decided that he would not leave his position without a fight,” Jordan told reporters. “Berman informed the attorney general that he would not resign and preferred not to leave the position.”
Another nothing burger
As with other prior “scandals” seized upon by Democrats to use against Trump and Barr, this again appears to be much ado about nothing.
President Trump and Attorney General Barr are well within their prerogative to make personnel changes in the executive branch and place their preferred appointees and nominees in certain positions, and offering an outgoing official another position as a peaceful exit plan is not the same as bribery or an unlawful quid pro quo.