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House Judiciary Chair Says Barr Should Be Impeached, But Won't Be

Jun 21, 2020

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says he believes Attorney General William Barr should be impeached, but conceded on Sunday that any such effort would be futile in the Republican-controlled Senate.

"I don't think calls for his impeachment are premature any more than calls for the president's impeachment were premature, but they are a waste of time at this point," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in an interview with CNN.

Nadler called the Senate "corrupt" for its decision to acquit the president earlier this year on two articles of impeachment.

His comments followed the controversial firing on Saturday of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Under Berman's watch, the SDNY oversaw the prosecution of Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and brought the grand jury indictment against two associates of the president's current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The office has also investigated the business dealings of Giuliani himself, though it has not brought charges.

The events leading to Berman's ouster were triggered by an announcement from the attorney general late Friday that he was stepping down. Berman quickly contradicted that statement, asserting he had no intention of resigning.

On Saturday, Barr announced that on his recommendation, President Trump had made the decision to fire Berman. By Saturday evening, Berman confirmed that he would indeed step down.

The surreal sequence of events has prompted accusations of corruption against Barr from across the Democratic Party.

On Sunday, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Barr was again using his position to protect the president.

"This is one more example why, I think, Bill Barr has repeatedly demonstrated that he's more interested in being Donald Trump's personal lawyer than he is being the attorney for the United States of America," Warner told CBS's "Face The Nation."

Other Democrats who decried the announcement included Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In a tweet Saturday, Warren implored Congress to pass a bill stripping Barr's authorities in matters involving Trump and his family.

"This is a naked abuse of power. I've already called for AG William Barr to resign & for Congress to impeach him," said the Massachusetts Democrat.

Hours after the termination was announced, Nadler said the judiciary committee would open an investigation into Berman's firing. Nadler told CNN the attorney general's role in the firing fit "a pattern of ... Barr corruptly impeding all these investigations." And in a statement, he said two whistleblowers would testify to the committee on Wednesday.

But Republicans, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, defended the firing.

"It is my view that any president has the ability to replace political appointees, such as U.S. Attorneys," Graham said in a statement. "The decision by President Trump to remove Mr. Berman as acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York falls within the president's power to appoint or remove U.S. Attorneys."

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