There was swift backlash earlier this month when Attorney General William Barr forced Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of New York, out of his position.
Berman, of course, was in the middle of prosecuting and investigating some of Donald Trump’s crooked associates, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
But according to a report from The New York Times, Berman’s ouster wasn’t the first example of Barr meddling in Trump-related SDNY cases.
The Times reports, “Shortly after he became attorney general last year, William P. Barr set out to challenge a signature criminal case that touched President Trump’s inner circle directly, and even the president’s own actions: the prosecution of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer.”
Not long after taking over at the Justice Department, Barr “spent weeks … questioning the prosecutors over their decision to charge Mr. Cohen with violating campaign finance laws.”
Trump’s hand-picked AG even instructed DOJ officials to write up a memo that could have “undermined that part of Mr. Cohen’s conviction and similar prosecutions in the future.”
Barr’s meddling in the Cohen case was just the start of his involvement in SDNY prosecutions that touched directly on the president’s inner circle of crooks, as The New York Times reported:
Mr. Barr’s role in the Cohen case also presaged his involvement in two other high-profile prosecutions of Trump associates: Michael T. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, and Roger J. Stone Jr., a political operative close to Mr. Trump who was convicted of lying to Congress and other crimes.
Last month, Mr. Barr ordered that prosecutors in Washington drop the case against Mr. Flynn, who had twice pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about phone calls with the Russian ambassador. Mr. Barr also overruled a sentencing recommendation from career prosecutors in Washington for Mr. Stone, which he viewed as excessive, prompting the office to backtrack.
Barr is Trump’s fixer, not America’s lawyer
As I wrote earlier this month, Bill Barr has transformed the Justice Department into Donald Trump’s personal law firm. Instead of upholding the rule of law, he has consistently trampled over it in service of Trump.
He is free to become a member of Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, but he has no business leading the Department of Justice.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.