Amidst turmoil surrounding the politicization of the Justice Department under the leadership of Trump appointees, the Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr has agreed to testify before the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee on July 28. The revelation that Barr had agreed to testify came on Wednesday, the same day that the House Judiciary Committee hosted a public hearing about politicization under Barr’s leadership. That hearing featured witnesses including federal prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who was handling Trump ally Roger Stone’s case when Barr’s team stepped in to lower the government’s sentencing recommendation for Stone.
It’s important to note — Barr has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for what Axios notes has been described as a “general oversight hearing,” and general oversight hearings are generally routine. Yet, questioning from committee members is sure to include issues like the recent firing of Geoffrey Berman from his role as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York while Berman’s office was investigating longtime Trump ally Rudy Giuliani. Barr kicked off the campaign to get Berman off the job with a public statement containing the lie that Berman had already resigned. After Berman publicly indicated he’d done no such thing, Barr enlisted the president to apparently fire Berman directly.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec made the announcement of Barr’s impending testimony. She shared on Twitter:
‘The Attorney General has accepted an invitation to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a general oversight hearing on July 28th.’
The Attorney General has accepted an invitation to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a general oversight hearing on July 28th.
— Kerri Kupec DOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) June 24, 2020
Axios notes that the news “comes after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) threatened to issue a subpoena — and as the committee is in the midst of a hearing about the alleged politicization of the Justice Department under Barr and President Trump,” adding:
‘Nadler’s threat to subpoena Barr — which would have called on the attorney general to appear on July 2 — came after the firing of of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who had been investigating Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.’
Barr’s history of political fealty to the president goes back a long way. In the early days of his time in office, he temporarily hid key information about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, failing to note that Mueller specifically did not exonerate the president. In the time since, Barr has also undertaken pro-Trump steps like trying to drop the government’s case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and trying to get that lower sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone.