‘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…’
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., accused Attorney General William Barr of flirting with criminal conduct in his handling of the removal of a top federal prosecutor in New York.
Nadler left a closed-door hearing with Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, and suggested that Barr might have engaged in “bribery” by offering Berman “plum assignments in the administration” and later “threatening to fire him” if he did not resign voluntarily.
“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.
“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,” he said.
As was the case with House Democrats’ spurious impeachment claims that President Donald Trump sought a quid-pro-quo bargain with Ukraine, the fact that neither side fulfilled the terms of the proposed arrangement may be more than a slight technicality.
Berman, who refused to step down despite pressure from Barr to do so, was fired by President Trump last month. He testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week during a three-hour long meeting, and told lawmakers that Barr “repeatedly urged” him to resign and take a different position in the Justice Department.
“I told the Attorney General that I was not interested,” Berman told the panel.
Berman explained “there were important investigations in the Office that I wanted to see through to completion.”
When Barr warned that if he didn’t go, he would be fired, “I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign,” Berman said.
Nadler claimed that Berman’s firing is “part of a clear and dangerous pattern” of behavior by Barr to protect the president from investigations.
Many of the “Trump-related investigations are run out of the Southern District of New York,” where Berman worked, Nadler pointed out.
“We can put two and two together,” he said.