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Nadler to subpoena AG Barr over Berman firing

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.) confirmed Monday night he plans to issue a subpoena to compel Attorney General Bill Barr to testify before Congress on July 2.

“We have begun the process to issue that subpoena. It is very much true. We are doing that,” Nadler said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowMaddow: Trump owes Welker an apology Hillicon Valley: Five takeaways on new election interference from Iran, Russia | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump | Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs | Schumer says briefing on Iranian election interference didn't convince him effort was meant to hurt Trump MORE Show.” 

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Democratic Judiciary staffers also held a conference call Monday and discussed the subpoena, said a source on the call. But Democrats said they expect Barr to ignore the subpoena.

The development comes just three days after Barr announced the sudden departure of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the South District of New York who had been leading several investigations that involved Trump and his advisers, including personal attorney Rudy Guiliani.

Berman said Friday night he would refuse to step down, leading Trump to formally fire him.

News of the coming subpoena was disclosed an hour earlier by the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, Ohio Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day McCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader MORE. In a letter to Nadler on Monday that was shared with reporters, Jordan said he had been informed by Nadler staffers that Barr would soon be subpoenaed to testify before the Judiciary Committee. 

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“Today your staff indicated that you intend to issue a subpoena to Attorney General William P. Barr for testimony at a Committee hearing on July 2, 2020,” Jordan wrote to Nadler. “The Attorney General had previously agreed to appear voluntarily in March, before you cancelled the hearing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Attorney General Barr remains willing to testify voluntarily once the pandemic concludes. 

“Accordingly, there is no legitimate basis for you to compel his testimony at this time.” 

In his letter, Jordan accused Nadler of taking a “partisan posture” against Barr since his confirmation more than a year ago. Jordan specifically pointed to comments the Judiciary chairman made on the Sunday shows when he said Barr was deserving of impeachment but that such a move would be a “waste of time” because of “corrupt” Senate Republicans who would protect him.

Shortly after Berman’s firing, Nadler said his committee would immediately launch an investigation into the matter. Nadler and other House Democrats are now facing pressure from progressives and ethics advocates like Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubLouisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream Trump breaks with precedent on second night of convention Democratic senators call for ethics review into Ivanka Trump's Goya tweet MORE to impeach Barr, but they’re unlikely to do so a little more than four months before the election.

 

Last summer, the Democrats did vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossIt's time to reckon with space junk Census Bureau to hold count through end of October Judge begins contempt proceedings for Wilbur Ross over allegedly defying census order MORE in criminal contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas, but the Justice Department — run by Barr himself — ignored the House’s request to prosecute the Trump Cabinet members.

That’s why Democrats believe Barr, with Trump’s backing, will simply scoff at Nadler’s subpoena, which is expected in the coming days.

Pressed about Berman’s firing on Monday, Senate Republicans largely defended Trump, saying Berman served at the pleasure of the president. Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Five reasons why Trump could upset the odds Will anyone from the left realize why Trump won — again? Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Utah), however, said Berman’s ouster “looks pretty swampy.”

Before he was officially ousted, Berman managed to select Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss as his acting successor. She is expected to continue several of the investigations that had made Berman a target in Trump’s circle.

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In addition to the Guiliani probe centered on his lobbying work in Ukraine, Berman’s team in Manhattan is investigating a state-run Turkish bank that former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonObama highlights Biden's tweet from a year ago warning Trump wasn't ready for pandemic Trump's former Homeland Security adviser on COVID-19: 'We could have saved more lives with a different, faster approach' John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report MORE alleged that Trump may be shielding from prosecution. Earlier, Berman successfully prosecuted Trump’s former attorney, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenMichael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration's Justice Department Bruce Ohr retires from DOJ Trump again asks Supreme Court to shield tax records MORE.

Nadler and House Democrats want to directly question Barr about whether Berman was fired for purely political reasons. But they also want to quiz the attorney general about other matters, including his role in the clearing of peaceful protesters outside the White House so that Trump could do a photo op. 

Updated at 10:35 p.m.