Cohen also complained about Barr’s involvement in the Justice Department decision to change sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone, a former associate of President Donald Trump who was convicted of obstruction, lying to Congress and manipulating witnesses. Federal prosecutors originally sought a seven to nine year prison sentence for Stone, but Barr softened those recommendations. A lead prosecutor in the case ended up leaving the Justice Department after the episode.
And Cohen referenced Barr’s role in the controversial decision to withdraw protesters from Lafayette Square during a June 1 demonstration on police brutality. Later, Trump crossed the square for a photo shoot at the Church of San Juan after the protesters had been released.
“I intend to present a resolution establishing many cases of Attorney General Barr’s misconduct and urge the Judicial Committee to continue its investigations into these cases, evaluate the evidence and determine if this constitutes impeccable conduct,” Cohen wrote.
Cohen urged Democrats who want to support his resolution to sign before Friday’s close. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
Cohen is among at least three Democrats who have publicly endorsed Barr’s impeachment, including representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Bill Pascrell of New Jersey. Cohen said this week: “We should pursue the Bill Barr indictment because he is reigning terror over the rule of law.”
But his effort is unlikely to be well received by many in the caucus and to pit himself against Democratic House leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who rejected the idea of trying to impeach Barr so close to the election.
Pelosi called Barr “a mess” on Thursday when asked about talking about accusing Barr, but quickly closed the prospect. The election would be the Democrats’ “solution” to many problems, including Barr, he said.
“It is despicable,” Pelosi said during a live Washington Post event. “There is no doubt about that. But at this point, let’s solve our problems by going to the polls and voting on election day, within 131 days. ”
House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (DN.Y.) similarly rejected the impeachment talk over the weekend, calling it a “waste of time.” But Nadler later caused confusion in the committee after telling CNN on Wednesday that he “might” be seeking the impeachment.
Nadler’s reversal came after other judicial Democrats pressured him to do more to hold Barr accountable. A call from the judiciary staff heated up last Monday, with some Democratic employees pressing for the indictment only to be rejected by Nadler’s aides.
Hours later that day, many Democrats on the committee were surprised by reports that Nadler planned to issue a subpoena for Barr’s testimony on July 2 if he did not appear voluntarily before the committee. Barr later agreed to testify before the panel on July 28.
Several Democratic advisers are skeptical that the resolution will gain momentum in the caucus, particularly at a time when the House faces dual crises of police brutality and a global pandemic at the top of its election year agenda.
Even Democrats who have been Trump’s biggest critics and his cabinet have been more measured in their response to Barr’s behavior in recent weeks, with little discussion of reprimanding or formally accusing him, though they had asked for it during previous points in the Trump presidency.
House Democrats voted to keep Barr in criminal contempt last year for the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census. The Justice Department, as expected, did not attempt to prosecute Barr.
No attorney general has ever been charged, although the House Judiciary Committee held hearings in 1922 on the failure of then Attorney General Harry Daugherty to prosecute officials involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. The panel found that there was insufficient evidence to justify Daugherty’s removal from office.