It's not just President Trump's overt interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone that Jerry Nadler intends to make Attorney General William Barr testify about next month -- he has an entire list of instances where it at least looks like the White House meddled in the Justice Department for political or personal reasons.
Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is serving notice in a letter sent to Barr Friday that he wants details on all those instances, including attempts to lessen punishments for Trump associates guilty of federal felonies. Among them are Trump's friend Stone, Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, https://www.npr.org/2019/03/07/701045248/paul-manafort-former-trump-campaign-chairman-sentenced-to-just-under-4-years and Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. https://www.cnn.com/2017/12/01/politics/michael-flynn-charged/index.html
Some 2,688 former Justice Department employees signed a letter calling on Barr to resign after the president called for -- and top Department officials attempted to -- lessen the sentence meted out to Stone.
"These circumstances are deeply troubling," Nadler writes to Barr, explaining that he wants answers well ahead of Barr's scheduled March 31 appearance.
Barr has denied any improper influence of his actions by the president, but did declare in a remarkable reprimand of the president during an ABC News interview that the Trump's tweets about things like Roger Stone's sentencing were making it "impossible" for the Department to do its work and assure it is being done "with integrity."
Citing Barr's admission, Nadler argues that as much as Barr wants to be loyal to Trump, he has a higher obligation to come clean with Congress.
"Although you serve at the President’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws," Nadler wrote. "In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility."
Nadler also wants details on the White House's interference in several other matters that at least appear to involve attempts to transgress established practice and law, and violate the independence of the Justice Department.
Among them are:
- The Department's decision to overrule the Intelligence Community Inspector General's conclusion that the complaint of the whistleblower in the Ukraine case was an “urgent concern” that by law should have been sent to Congress, and the post-impeachment decision to open a new "intake procedure" for Rudy Giuliani to keep digging for dirt on the Bidens.
- The President’s apparent bid to intervene against the Antitrust Division's consideration of the merger of CNN parent company Time Warner with AT&T, and for the Sprint-T-Mobile deal.
Nadler's letter tries to counter Barr's previous complaints that the Department "typically does not provide information regarding ongoing matters” by pointing to numerous cases where it has, including in the Bush and Obama administrations, and most recently when the Trump Justice Department handed over a million pages to the then-GOP-controlled Judiciary and Oversight Committees for their 2017 probe of the origins of the Hillary Clinton email case and the origins of the Russia investigation.
In addition to mountains of documentation, Nadler wants interviews with 15 Justice Department officials. Citing the past precedents, he argues none of his requests should be denied. He also argues that 15 former and current Justice and FBI officials testified for the GOP probes of Clinton and Russia.
Some observers thought that Barr's uncharacteristic public rebuke of the president on ABC signaled a desire on his part to assuage the thousands of former DOJ officials who want his resignation, and to show that the Department is in fact independent of the White House. They also point to the Department's decision not to prosecute the former FBI No. 2, Andrew McCabe, whom the president continually excoriates as corrupt for his role in launching and running the Russia probe.
Nadler closes his letter with what looks like an appeal to Barr's possible concern for his legacy and institutional integrity.
"Given your experience at the Department, I am confident you are familiar with these precedents and expect the Department to act consistent with the letter and spirit of the previous cooperation we have enjoyed with your predecessors," Nadler wrote.