Senate Judiciary Investigating Ex-US Attorney’s Allegations Of Trump DOJ Political Interference

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: : Chairman Richard Durbin, (D-IL), attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine Texas's abortion law on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom W... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 29: : Chairman Richard Durbin, (D-IL), attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to examine Texas's abortion law on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now investigating an ex-federal prosecutor’s explosive claims detailing how then-President Donald Trump (with the aid of then-Attorney General Bill Barr and other officials) tried to pressure him into going after his political enemies.

Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced the investigation in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, several days after the New York Times reported on the allegations in a new book by Geoffrey Berman, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for two years before Trump fired him.

“These reported claims indicate astonishing and unacceptable deviations from the Department’s mission to pursue impartial justice, which requires that its prosecutorial decisions be free from political influence,” Durbin wrote.

Berman alleged in his book that a Trump political appointee at the DOJ, Edward O’Callaghan, demanded in Sept. 2018 that Berman’s office charge ex-Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig, who was being investigated over his previous work for Ukraine, before the midterms.

That demand was nakedly political, according to Berman: O’Callaghan allegedly contended that Berman’s office, after having prosecuted now-convicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) and ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen, needed to criminally charge Craig in order to “even things out.”

Berman ultimately refused to do so, and so the department “peddled” (in Berman’s words) Craig’s case to a U.S. attorney in Washington. Craig was indicted by that office on one charge of making a false statement, but he was acquitted by a jury in Sept. 2019.

Berman also claimed that DOJ officials told him to open an investigation into ex-secretary of state John Kerry, whom Trump had repeatedly attacked via Twitter, claiming Kerry was secretly trying to preserve the Iran nuclear accord that the then-president had blown up.

Additionally, Barr unsuccessfully attempted to reverse Cohen’s conviction on campaign finance law violations, according to Berman.

In his letter on Monday, Durbin asked Garland to turn over DOJ documents on requests and communications related to Craig, Kerry and Cohen. The senator gave Garland a deadline of no later than Oct. 3.

Durbin also noted the chaos surrounding Berman’s ouster in the summer of 2020, when Barr had put out a statement claiming Berman had resigned, only for the then-prosecutor to defiantly announce he had “no intention” of resigning. Then Trump ousted Berman–though he bizarrely tried to claim he had nothing to do with the firing.

Read the letter below:

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