Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) renewed her prior calls for Attorney General Bill Barr to be investigated and impeached by Congress, the New York Post reported.
Warren’s call comes as Democrats and the media express outrage over the firing of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Geoffrey Berman. Barr revealed Friday that he had asked Berman to resign. Berman refused to step down, prompting Barr and President Donald Trump to fire him on Saturday.
Warren wants to “defund” Barr
“This is a naked abuse of power. I’ve already called for AG William Barr to resign & for Congress to impeach him. Congress should pass my bill now to defund Barr’s authority to interfere with matters related to Trump, his family, & his campaign,” Warren tweeted.
This is a naked abuse of power. I’ve already called for AG William Barr to resign & for Congress to impeach him. Congress should pass my bill now to defund Barr’s authority to interfere with matters related to Trump, his family, & his campaign.https://t.co/qyScqhFkiw
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 20, 2020
The standoff between Barr and Berman
The whole thing began on Friday evening with a news release from the Justice Department announcing President Trump’s nominee to replace Berman as the top prosecutor at SDNY, current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission Jay Clayton. U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito is to serve in Berman’s place for the interim until Clayton is confirmed by the Senate.
In response, Berman issued a statement later on Friday night noting his refusal to step down. He insinuated that because he’d been appointed to his position by the courts that there was nothing Barr could do until the permanent replacement was confirmed.
That standoff lasted less than 24 hours, though. Barr sent a tersely-worded letter to Berman on Saturday informing him that he had, in fact, been fired effective immediately by President Trump, at Barr’s request.
In what could be described as a bid to smooth things over, Barr also revealed that he would allow Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, to take over until the confirmation process for a permanent replacement was completed.
Berman was leading several anti-Trump investigations
The big problem in all of this, which was played up by the liberal media and Democrats who already distrust Barr, was the appearance that Barr’s ouster of Berman could be intended to quash several anti-Trump investigations he and his office were leading, the Post reported.
Berman had already led the prosecution of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, was reportedly investigating Trump’s current personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, was investigating allegations of financial crimes involving Trump and foreign banks, and was investigating allegations of impropriety by Trump’s inauguration committee, among other things.
Of course, as Barr noted himself in his letter to Berman, it is patently absurd for anyone to think those entire investigations would simply cease just because of a change in leadership at a large prosecutor’s office, and he made it clear that all current probes would continue as they were. Unfortunately, that rings of common sense too much, and flew right over the heads of Democrats like Warren.
Nadler jumps at chance to go after Barr
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) also issued a statement on the Berman situation, saying, “The whole thing smacks of corruption and incompetence, which is what we have come to expect from this President and his Attorney General.”
“The House Judiciary Committee will immediately open an investigation into this incident, as part of our broader investigation into Barr’s unacceptable politicization of the Department of Justice,” Nadler concluded and added that his committee would seek testimony from Berman about exactly what had happened.