House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said his panel will immediately open an investigation into the Trump administration’s move to fire Manhattan U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman.
“The House Judiciary Committee will immediately open an investigation into this incident, as part of our broader investigation into Barr’s unacceptable politicization of the Department of Justice,” Nadler, who had served as an impeachment manager in President Donald Trump’s Senate trial, said in a statement on Saturday.
Nadler said that “two whistleblowers” will be called on Wednesday to “explain why Barr’s attempt to fire Mr. Berman is part of a larger, ongoing, and wholly unacceptable pattern of conduct.” Nadler added that the panel might attempt to “secure” Berman’s “testimony as well” in the future.
On June 19, the Department of Justice announced that Berman was being replaced, adding that he was stepping down from his New York-based post.
But an hour later, Berman wrote in a statement that he had no intention of resigning from his job, adding that he was appointed by judges from the Southern District of New York.
“I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate,” he added. “Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption.”
That statement prompted Attorney General William Barr to write a letter to Berman that he is “surprised and quite disappointed,” adding that “because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so.”
Trump, before his rally in Oklahoma on Saturday evening, told reporters that he was “not involved” in the firing of Berman.
“That’s all up to the attorney general,” Trump said. “Attorney General Barr is working on that. That’s his department, not my department. But we have a very capable attorney general, so that’s really up to him, I’m not involved.”
But on Saturday, Berman confirmed that he is stepping down. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as this District’s U.S. Attorney and a custodian of its proud legacy, but I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s.”
Nadler added in his statement that Barr may have abused his authority and accused both Barr and Trump of being incompetent.
Berman’s office had been tasked with investigating former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen as well as Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had been associates of Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and another personal attorney of Trump. Berman also oversaw an investigation into convicted pedophile and multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in an apparent suicide attempt in a Manhattan jail cell last August after he was arrested on new sex trafficking charges.
The White House hasn’t responded to a request for comment.