Democrats pan Trump, Barr over dismissal of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman

Congressional Democrats hammered President TrumpDonald TrumpRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Jake Ellzey defeats Trump-backed candidate in Texas House runoff DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit MORE and Attorney General William BarrBill BarrHighest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE over the news that a U.S. attorney in Manhattan who was investigating associates of the president was abruptly dismissed

Democrats cast the sudden ouster of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who is probing Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenMichael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip Why the Trump Organization indictment may be far less consequential than the media think Michael Cohen: Weisselberg indictment 'the tip of the iceberg' MORE, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's Capitol riot lawsuit Bob Dole: 'I'm a Trumper' but 'I'm sort of Trumped out' Ex-Trump adviser Barrack charged with secretly lobbying for UAE MORE and other Trump allies, as a constitutional crisis and evidence of their claims that Trump is trying to politicize the Justice Department. They also praised Berman for his refusal to step down.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.) suggested that Trump had Berman dismissed to protect himself from an ongoing probe, saying in a statement, “This late Friday night dismissal reeks of potential corruption of the legal process. What is angering President Trump? A previous action by this U.S. Attorney or one that is ongoing?” 

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“This is a bombshell. Was the attempted stealth removal of the US Attorney done by AG barr to protect donald trump or his associates from investigation or prosecution? We need to find out,” added Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Jan. 6 probe poised to spill into 2022, with no complaints from Democrats Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers MORE (D-N.J.). 

Democrats in Washington have long accused Trump of seeking to purge the government of officials he deems insufficiently loyal, pointing to high-profile firings in the Department of Justice and elsewhere in the administration.

Berman was first appointed to his post in 2018 after his predecessor, Preet BhararaPreet BhararaWhy Trump (probably) won't be indicted New York Times in discussions to acquire The Athletic: report Vox Media acquires podcasting company co-founded by Preet Bharara MORE, was dismissed for refusing to fire former President Obama’s appointees in the office.

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Several Democrats called on Berman to testify at an upcoming hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee that will feature testimony from Justice Department whistleblowers and former Department officials over the “unprecedented politicization” of the department.

“America is right to expect the worst of Bill Barr, who has repeatedly interfered in criminal investigations on Trump’s behalf. We have a hearing on this topic on Wednesday. We welcome Mr. Berman’s testimony and will invite him to testify,” tweeted Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBritney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer Activists see momentum as three new states legalize marijuana MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the judiciary panel.

A number of Democrats noted that Berman’s office is investigating several Trump associates, including Cohen, who pleaded guilty to tax, bank and campaign finance crimes, and Giuliani, the president's personal attorney, over whether he failed to register with the government as a foreign agent.

Berman’s office has also subpoenaed Trump’s inaugural committee over an investigation into potential illegal contributions from foreigners and charged former Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsOutrage grows as Justice seeks to contain subpoena fallout Trump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP MORE (R-N.Y.), a Trump ally, with insider trading. 

Berman clarified after news of his dismissal broke that he would not be stepping down and that all of his office’s inquiries would continue.

"I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was 'stepping down' as United States Attorney," he said in a statement. "I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position. ... I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption." 

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Democrats seized on the chaos surrounding the ouster to revive calls to hold Barr “accountable,” with some lawmakers even calling for him to be impeached.

“This is a naked abuse of power. I’ve already called for AG William Barr to resign & for Congress to impeach him,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause and wipe out K per borrower Senate confirms Biden's Air Force secretary MORE (D-Mass.), adding that Congress should “defund Barr’s authority to interfere with matters related to Trump, his family, & his campaign.”

“Last night, President Trump’s attorney general was less than truthful to the press and public, in an attempt to force out a prosecutor investigating criminal activity by the president and his allies. Congress will investigate," added Rep. Val Demmings (D-Fla.).

Barr has been a key focus of Democrats’ ire since early last month when the Justice Department said it would drop charges against Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who had already pleaded guilty to lying to investigators over his contacts with Russian officials. 

“Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement at the time.