Impeaching AG Barr a 'waste of time' says top Democrat probing political meddling

By Doina Chiacu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters June 22, 2020 00:11:26 IST
Impeaching AG Barr a 'waste of time' says top Democrat probing political meddling

Impeaching AG Barr a waste of time says top Democrat probing political meddling

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr deserves to be impeached over the firing of a federal prosecutor whose office had been investigating President Donald Trump's personal lawyer but the effort would be a "waste of time," a leading Democratic lawmaker said on Sunday.

Jerrold Nadler, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee chairman who helped lead the Trump impeachment hearings last year, told CNN's "State of the Union" that the Republican-led Senate would block any effort to sanction Barr.

"I think he deserves impeachment. He certainly deserves impeachment. But again, that's a waste of time because the Republicans in the Senate won't look at that and we have, we have other ways of getting at this," Nadler said.

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment

The firing of Berman was the latest in a series of moves by Barr that critics say aim to benefit Trump politically and undermine the independence of the Justice Department.

Nadler's comments on Sunday underscore the challenges Democrats on Capitol Hill face in trying to rein in Barr with a Senate dominated by Republicans who are wary of criticizing Trump before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Nadler said his panel would nonetheless investigate Trump's firing of prosecutor Geoffrey Berman on Saturday after an extraordinary standoff over the independence of one of the country's most important federal prosecutor's office.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has not shied from taking on figures in Trump's orbit and had been investigating his private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor in Trump's impeachment, told NBC's "Meet the Press" the motivation for firing Berman was suspect, "given the pattern and practice of both the president in seeking to use the justice system to reward friends, punish enemies, protect people he likes, and Bill Barr's willingness to carry that water for the president."

Nadler said he has asked Berman to testify in the Judiciary Committee's investigation of political interference at the Justice Department launched earlier this year.

Nadler said he did not know if Berman would testify at a hearing Wednesday with whistleblowers from the department, "but I'm sure he will testify" at some point.

The dispute began late Friday when Barr announced Berman was stepping down and would be replaced by U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton. Berman refused to resign until the Senate confirmed his successor, and said his office's investigations would continue.

Only after Barr backtracked from his plan to hand pick the acting U.S. attorney, allowing Berman's deputy Audrey Strauss to take the reins, did Berman agree to step down on Saturday.

Some Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, have called for Barr's impeachment. The Senate, where Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats, would never vote for that so the Democrat-led House would have to pursue alternative measures, Nadler said, citing his proposal to cut $50 million in funding from Barr's personal budget.

On Saturday evening, at least 135 former federal prosecutors weighed into the political storm with a petition blasting Trump and Barr for "undermining confidence in our criminal justice system."

Clayton's links to Wall Street - Deutsche Bank AG was among his clients at law firm Sullivan & Cromwell - could require him to recuse himself from a number of probes. Deutsche Bank, one of the largest creditors for Trump's hotels, golf courses and other properties, remains under Justice Department investigation.

Republican Senator Tim Scott on Sunday played down concerns that Clayton might try to neuter investigations related to Trump and his businesses.

"There is no indication that those investigations will stop," Scott said on ABC's "This Week," calling Clayton a "straight shooter."

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Michelle Price, Karen Freifeld and Nathan Layne; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities
World

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities

Reports suggest that they captured President Alpha Conde and dissolved the government, bust the ground situation remains unclear

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up
News & Analysis

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The price of cryptocurrencies plunged and crypto trading was delayed on Tuesday, a day in which El Salvador ran into snags as the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Shares of blockchain-related firms also fell as crypto stocks were hit by trading platform outages. But the major focus was on El Salvador, where the government had to temporarily unplug a digital wallet to cope with demand.

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field
News & Analysis

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field

By Joseph White and Sanjana Shivdas (Reuters) -The head of Apple Inc's car project, Doug Field, is going to work for Ford Motor Co to lead the automaker's advanced technology and embedded systems efforts, a hiring coup for Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley.