President of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler is expected to issue a subpoena to compel Attorney General Bill Barr to testify before the panel on the firing of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman, amid from the committee’s extensive investigation into the alleged “politicization” of the Trump Department of Justice.
“We have begun the process to issue that subpoena,” Nadler, DN.Y., said Monday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC.
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According to reports, the subpoena would compel Barr’s testimony on July 2.
The move comes as top Congressional Democrats are calling for further investigations and hearings on the Justice Department after Berman’s dismissal over the weekend.
Nadler previously said his panel “would immediately open an investigation” into the move. President Trump apparently fired Berman after he refused to resign, although the president has since distanced himself from the process.
“Attorney General Bill Barr told us that Geoffrey Berman of the SDNY had resigned, which was false,” Nadler said in a statement. “Barr told us that the president asked him to fire Mr. Berman, which may also be untrue, given that the president says he had nothing to do with the decision.”
Nadler added: “All this smells of corruption and incompetence, which is what we expect from this President and his Attorney General.”
Nadler noted that neither the White House nor the Justice Department offered an explanation for Berman’s removal.
“We know that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is involved in investigations directed at President Trump’s inner circle,” said Nadler. “We know, from revelations earlier this week, that the President wanted to have ‘his own people’ in that office to help him with his personal and political needs. And we know that time and again, Bill Barr has come to ongoing criminal investigations to protect the President from its consequences. “
Meanwhile, Nadler issued subpoenas last week for Justice Department officials Aaron SJ Zelinsky and John W. Elias, who had filed complaints about “unprecedented politicization” at the Justice Department under Barr’s leadership.
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Nadler said the two Justice Department officials will testify on Wednesday and “explain why Barr’s attempt to fire Mr. Berman is part of a broader, ongoing and totally unacceptable pattern of conduct.”
“If the President removes Mr. Berman, we will also take additional steps to secure his testimony,” Nadler said.
Nadler also said over the weekend that he is “certain” that Berman will testify before Congress.
The calls to investigate Berman’s impeachment come after Barr announced Friday that he would resign his position at SDNY. Barr and the White House announced that the president would nominate Jay Clayton, the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to replace him.
But Berman released a statement saying he learned of his “departure” from Barr’s press release and that he had no intention of quitting the job.
By Saturday, Barr, in a letter to Berman, informed him that the President had removed him from office. Barr wrote that he asked Trump to fire Berman after his statement Friday night.
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Barr said Deputy Prosecutor Audrey Strauss will take over until a permanent successor is established.
Berman said he would leave “immediately” and expressed strong confidence that Strauss can lead the SDNY with integrity and independence.
However, Trump distanced himself from Berman’s expulsion on Saturday when he left the White House for Tulsa, Oklahoma, and said it was Barr’s decision.
“It all depends on the attorney general,” Trump said when asked about Berman’s firing. “Attorney General Barr is working on that. That is his department, not my department.”
The Southern District has hunted down a number of Trump associates, including former President Michael Cohen’s personal lawyer and repairer, who served a prison sentence for lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes. The office has also been investigating the business of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, even if he did not register as a foreign agent, people familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.
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Berman declined to directly supervise Cohen’s investigation for reasons that were never disclosed.
Berman also oversaw the prosecution of two Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were associated with Giuliani and linked to Ukraine’s impeachment investigation. The men were charged in October with violations of federal campaign finance, including concealing the origin of a $ 325,000 donation to a group that supports Trump’s reelection.
Fox News’s Marisa Schultz, Jake Gibson, Ben Florance and Associated Press contributed to this report.