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Nadler to subpoena AG Barr over Berman firing

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerJim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones calls on Breyer to retire 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 MaddowOcasio-Cortez eyeing T over 10 years for infrastructure Tucker Carlson: Matt Gaetz sexual allegation interview 'one of weirdest' he's done MSNBC changes branding of live breaking news coverage to 'MSNBC Reports' 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 JordanJim Jordan, Val Demings get in shouting match about police during hearing Top House Republicans ask Harris for meeting on border The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults can get vaccine; decision Friday on J&J vax 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 ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream 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 RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits 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 Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Tensions rise as U.S. waits for Derek Chauvin verdict Mark Halperin hired by bipartisan policy group No Labels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict 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 BoltonTrump pushes back on Bolton poll Hillicon Valley: Facebook Oversight board to rule on Trump ban in 'coming weeks' | Russia blocks Biden Cabinet officials in retaliation for sanctions Russia blocks key Biden Cabinet officials from entering in retaliation for sanctions MORE alleged that Trump may be shielding from prosecution. Earlier, Berman successfully prosecuted Trump’s former attorney, Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump Organization adds veteran criminal defense attorney Manhattan DA investigating Trump says he won't seek reelection John Dean: 'Only a matter of how many days' until Trump is indicted 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.