House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is planning to subpoena Attorney General William Barr, he said Monday in an interview on MSNBC.
The ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, said in a letter obtained by CNN that the New York Democrat’s staff indicated he could subpoena Barr for a hearing in July.
“Today your staff indicated that you intend to issue a subpoeana to Attorney General William P. Barr for testimony at a Committee hearing on July 2, 2020,” Jordan’s letter to Nadler stated. “The Attorney General had previously agreed to appear voluntarily in March, before you cancelled the hearing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Attorney General Barr remains willing to testify voluntarily once the pandemic concludes. Accordingly, there is no legitimate basis for you to compel his testimony at this time.”
The planned subpoena comes after a weekend of drama over the job status of Geoffrey Berman, the powerful prosecutor who led the Manhattan US attorney’s office, which has pursued President Donald Trump and his allies. Berman said he would exit his post Saturday, ending a standoff after Trump and Barr fired him.
Berman’s departure came a day after he had refused Barr’s request that he resign. In a curt letter to Berman on Saturday, Barr told him Trump had agreed to remove him and conceded that Berman’s deputy would succeed him.
Nadler told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that he thinks impeaching Barr over the move would be a “waste of time” and instead would look at withholding $50 million from the Department of Justice in an effort to punish the attorney general.
“I don’t think calls for his impeachment are premature any more than calls for the President’s impeachment were premature, but they are a waste of time at this point,” Nadler told Tapper of Barr, whom he criticized for removing Berman.
“We’ve seen a pattern of … Barr corruptly impeding all these investigations, so this is just more of the same,” Nadler said.
Nadler also called the Republican-led Senate “corrupt” over its decision earlier this year to acquit Trump on two articles of impeachment, and he stressed there was nothing to be gained from pursuing Barr’s impeachment because it would likely end in the same not-guilty vote.
“We’re instead going to do what we have to do without that, and including barring $50 million from his own personal budget,” Nadler said.
In his letter, Jordan alluded to those comments and said they were “unusual.”
“Although the Attorney General leads the men and women of the Justice Department, including U.S. attorneys, and the President has the unquestioned authority to remove U.S. attorneys, you somehow interpreted Berman’s removal to be evidence of a nefarious plot,” Jordan wrote. “You suggested that Attorney General Barr was worthy of impeachment for his actions but that you would not impeach him because, as you alleged without evidence, ‘corrupt’ Republican senators would protect him. This comment, in particular, seems to suggest that you harbor resentment for your embarrassing spectacle during President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate chamber earlier this year.”
Nadler’s committee has invited Berman to testify, and the chairman told Tapper that he is confident the former US attorney will do so, though he wouldn’t say when that may happen.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.
CNN’s Sarah Westwood, Erica Orden, Manu Raju, Evan Perez and Kara Scannell.