Barr to testify in House oversight hearing next month

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban DOJ to resume executions next week for first time in 15 years Tim Scott says he's talking with House Democrats about reviving police reform bill MORE 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 TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (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 GiulianiRudy GiulianiOusted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE.

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 CohenMichael Dean CohenBarr to testify in House oversight hearing next month Stone received 'favorable treatment' because of relationship with Trump, former prosecutor will testify Nadler to subpoena AG Barr over Berman firing MORE, 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 StoneRoger Jason StoneHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages Roger Stone asks court to delay prison sentence over coronavirus concerns MORE 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 RossWilbur Louis RossOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' probe report Research finds Uighurs targeted by Chinese spyware as part of surveillance campaign MORE 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.