Top attorney to take leave of absence from law firm to focus on Judiciary's Trump probe

Top attorney to take leave of absence from law firm to focus on Judiciary's Trump probe
© Greg Nash

One of the top attorneys helping the House Judiciary Committee conduct their oversight investigation into the Trump administration is planning to take a leave of absence from his law firm, according to a Democratic congressional source familiar with the matter.

The law firm Kramer Levin is expected to announce that white-collar criminal defense attorney Barry Berke, one of the two top lawyers Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan Angelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators MORE (D-N.Y.) hired last month, is taking his leave of absence on Friday.

A spokesperson for Kramer Levin confirmed the move, saying, "It has been in the works for a while."

Last month, Nadler announced that Berke and former White House lawyer Norman Eisen, both vocal critics of President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE, would be working with his committee's legal staff.

He said the pair will examine a "range of issues," including possible corruption, ethics violations and obstruction of justice.

Eisen and Berke will focus on matters related to "the Department of Justice, including the Department’s review of Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation, and other oversight and policy issues within the Committee’s jurisdiction,” Nadler said in a statement at the time.

The two attorneys are high-profile hires, given their public critiques of the Trump administration.

Berke has written extensively with Eisen on obstruction of justice and other potential legal exposures involving Trump. He is seen as a powerful litigator with vast experience. 

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Berke and Eisen are expected to help the Judiciary panel as it embarks on a sprawling investigation of Trump’s businesses, family, campaign and administration, as the House Judiciary Committee demanded paperwork from at least 80 different people and organizations.

The probe reflects an effort by Democrats to use their newfound majority in the House to launch aggressive investigations into Trump and his administration.

“Investigating these threats to the rule of law is an obligation of Congress and a core function of the House Judiciary Committee,” he said. “We have seen the damage done to our democratic institutions in the two years that the Congress refused to conduct responsible oversight.”

Trump, who initially signaled he would cooperate with the Judiciary probe even though he believes it is a "hoax", then indicated on Tuesday that he was unwilling to do so, citing what he said was former President Obama’s handling of congressional probes during his time in office.

“They didn’t give one letter,” Trump said, referring to the Obama administration. “They didn’t do anything. They didn’t give one letter of the requests.”