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Impeaching Barr ‘A Waste of Time,’ Judiciary Democrat Says

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 6/21/2020 Daniel Flatley
a person standing in front of a crowd: William Barr © Bloomberg William Barr

(Bloomberg) -- A top House Democrat says there’s little point pursuing the impeachment of Attorney General William Barr, as some lawmakers have urged, because a “corrupt” Senate will simply ignore the charges.

Impeaching Barr is “a waste of time at this point because we know that we have a corrupt Republican majority in the Senate which will not consider an impeachment no matter what the evidence,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Saturday that Barr should be impeached for his role in the removal of Geoffrey Berman, now the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. After Berman initially refused to leave, Barr said that Trump had directed his removal, despite contradictory comments from the president.

Democrats in Congress say that President Donald Trump’s firing of Berman is part of a pattern of obstruction of investigations into the president and his close associates.

“There seems to be a pattern in this administration that the president and his henchmen, Mr. Barr, are willing to get rid of anyone that gets close to Donald Trump,” Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said on ABC’s “This Week” that there was nothing nefarious about the decision to replace Berman.

“President Trump actually hired Mr. Berman and he fired Mr. Berman,” Scott said. “Everyone at the DOJ works at the pleasure of the president, number one. Number two, there’s no indication whatever that whatever is being investigated, will not continue to move on.”

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But Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Congress needs to learn more about the motivations behind Berman’s removal.

“Given that Barr has sought to intervene in cases to help out people like Michael Flynn or Roger Stone, and to seek additional punishment for people like Michael Cohen, you really have to question what’s really at the basis of this Friday night attempted massacre, and now, completed one,” Schiff said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Nadler said he has invited Berman to testify at a Judiciary Committee hearing on June 24 but said he wasn’t sure whether he would show.

Berman, who worked on Trump’s transition team, said in a statement Friday that he found out he was “stepping down” from his position in a press release from Barr.

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He initially said he would stay until a presidentially appointed nominee was approved by the Senate. But he did step down after Barr’s second directive saying the firing came from Trump directly and after Barr said he would appoint Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss to run the office.

Other House Democrats are skeptical that any evidence against Barr or the president uncovered during an impeachment hearing could get a fair hearing in the Senate after the chamber voted to exclude witnesses and any additional evidence from the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year.

“It wasn’t functionally a trial because senators declined to call a single witness, issue a single subpoena,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”

(Adds additional lawmaker comments beginning in the fourth paragraph.)

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