Senate to Probe Former US Attorney's Claims of Trump DOJ Interference
Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 13 September 2022 09:25 AM EDT
The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate claims that the Department of Justice under the Trump administration tried to interfere with the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, the Washington Examiner reported.
Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to say the panel will probe whether a former U.S. attorney resisted pressure from top officials to prosecute critics of former President Donald Trump and protect the former president's allies.
The Examiner obtained a copy of the letter in which Durbin wrote that if found to be true, these claims could prove "multiple instances of political interference in the Department's investigative and prosecutorial decisions."
In his letter, Durbin requested five groups of materials, including all documents and communications between anyone at the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office and officials in the U.S. Office of the Attorney General and Deputy General and/or the Criminal Division referring to prosecuting former President Barack Obama's White House counsel Gregory Craig, the Examiner said.
The committee wants materials no later than Oct. 3.
Berman, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote "Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent US Attorney's Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department." The book is set for release Tuesday.
In the book, Berman says Craig was prosecuted without grounds before the 2018 midterm elections for allegedly violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Berman added that his deputy was asked by Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan to prosecute Craig, but Berman denied the request.
"Mr. Berman claims that Department officials then 'peddled' the investigation to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, which indicted and tried Craig — who was acquitted by a jury in fewer than five hours," Durbin's letter said, the Examiner reported.
Berman also wrote that Trump's DOJ pressured his office to remove reference to the former president from the document charging his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen with campaign finance crimes and lying to Congress.
After Cohen's conviction, administrators attempted to remove any mention of then-Attorney General Bill Barr trying to reverse the conviction and end related inquiries.
Berman also wrote that the DOJ pressed his office to prosecute former Secretary of State John Kerry over activity surrounding the Iran nuclear deal. Kerry helped negotiate the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, of which Trump later pulled out.
Berman volunteered for the Trump campaign in 2016 and transition before serving as a U.S. attorney under the former president for over two years, the Examiner said.
Berman was fired from his position in June 2020 by Barr after the U.S. attorney had opened several investigations into Trump's allies.
"At the time I was fired, the Southern District of New York was working on a couple politically sensitive cases," Berman said Monday on MSNBC.
"One of those cases is the [former White House chief strategist] Steve Bannon 'we build the wall' case, and we were very close to indicting that case around the time I got fired, and Barr knew about the case."