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June 23, 2020

Jerry, Barr the Door

Democrats, led by Jerry Nadler, are accusing AG William Barr of “politicizing” the DOJ.

We opted to let the dust settle on the weekend firing of a U.S. attorney before commenting on the story. For those who missed it, Paul Mirengoff sums it up at Power Line: “Over the weekend, a flap arose about the removal of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. On Friday evening, Attorney General [William] Barr announced that Berman had resigned. … Berman, however, was having none of it. He said he had not resigned, and intended to stay in the job to ensure that the cases his office is working on continue unimpeded. Barr then fired Berman, saying that President [Donald] Trump had directed the decision.”

Naturally, Democrats are crying foul, alleging that Barr, doing President Trump’s bidding, was attempting to block investigations under Berman’s purview, including one that involved Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, who himself held Berman’s position in the 1980s, suggested as much. And the Southern District of New York has indeed caused some legal headaches for Trump, including in the matter of his alleged hush-money payments to two mistresses.

The arguably poor execution notwithstanding, this is more likely a case of repeated clashes between Berman and Barr. According to The Wall Street Journal, “The day before Attorney General William Barr abruptly announced plans to replace Geoffrey Berman as the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, supervisors in Mr. Barr’s Justice Department asked Mr. Berman to sign a letter criticizing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city’s enforcement of social-distancing rules to block religious gatherings but not recent street protests, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Berman refused to sign the letter Thursday.”

Protecting religious liberty, particularly during the pandemic, has been one of Barr’s focal points. If Berman’s refusal to cooperate was in line with previous disagreements, it’s no wonder the AG wanted to go in a different direction. He’s had a lot of work to do cleaning house at the overly politicized Justice Department after Barack Obama’s henchmen had done their work.

Nevertheless, Democrats have their sights trained on Barr. Jerry Nadler, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says, “We have begun the process to issue that subpoena” of Barr, who he insists “deserves impeachment” for politicizing the Justice Department — Berman’s firing being but one example for Nadler. Go figure that Barr’s effort to undo Obama’s political weaponization of the executive branch would draw the ire of one of the Democrats’ leading impeachment fanatics.

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