National Security

Barr to testify in House oversight hearing next month

Attorney General William Barr will testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month as Democrats on the panel seek to investigate his decision to fire a top prosecutor in Manhattan.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec confirmed on Twitter that the president’s top law enforcement official will participate in a general oversight hearing in late July.

“The Attorney General has accepted an invitation to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a general oversight hearing on July 28th,” Kupec tweeted.

The confirmation comes just minutes after Judiciary Democrats convened a hearing to hear from two Justice Department officials, described as “whistleblowers,” who are expected to testify about the agency becoming politicized under Barr and President Trump.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) threatened earlier this week to subpoena Barr to testify before the committee in early July, but Barr has agreed to appear later in the month.

Democrats began sharpening their knives for Barr over the weekend following the sudden departure of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was spearheading several investigations into Trump and his inner circle, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Berman on Friday night said he would refuse to step down, leading Trump to formally fire him. Shortly after Berman’s firing, Nadler vowed that his panel would launch an investigation into the ouster.

Berman was able to tap Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss to serve as his acting successor before he was officially let go. Strauss is expected to press forward with several of the investigative threads that led Berman to emerge as persona non grata among Trump and his circle. 

Berman successfully prosecuted Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and he is said to be examining Giuliani’s lobbying work in Ukraine as well as allegations that Trump shielded a state-run Turkish bank from prosecution.

Democrats, however, have a grab bag of matters that they want to press the attorney general on, including the Justice Department’s handling of cases related to the president’s friends and allies such as Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

They also want to grill him about his recent role in the clearing of peaceful protesters outside the White House so that Trump could stage a photo-op in front of a historic church that was vandalized during protests demonstrating against police brutality and the police killing of George Floyd.

Last year, Democrats voted to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas, but no action was taken to prosecute these two top officials because the Justice Department, which makes such decisions, is run by Barr.

Democrats were skeptical that Barr would agree to testify, but the announcement Wednesday will come as a pleasant surprise.

Tags Donald Trump Hearing House Oversight Jerrold Nadler Jerry Nadler Michael Cohen Roger Stone Rudy Giuliani testify Wilbur Ross William Barr

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