Last Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) accused Attorney General William Barr of “flirting with criminal conduct” in his dealings with former U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman. According to Berman, Barr attempted to bribe the attorney into stepping down from his position with the promise of administrative rewards, and eventually threats of forced removal. President Donald Trump fired Berman on June 20, the day after Berman claims Barr requested him to step down. He was replaced by Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

Democratics have suggested that Berman was removed as a result of prosecuting several members of Trump’s inner circle. In the past, Berman has charged Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, Rep. Chris Collins (R-New York), Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. At the time of his removal, he had been investigating claims regarding Trump’s personal lawyer and former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani.

Republicans have proposed a very different theory. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) has stated that Berman’s allegations are the result of a wounded ego rather than any criminal conduct perpetrated by Barr. Both Gaetz and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) cited the fact that Berman did not mention any particular, sensitive cases in Thursday’s hearing as evidence of Barr’s innocence.

Another hearing is scheduled for July 28, during which Nadler will question Barr himself. However, many Democrats have little faith that the Department of Justice would actually go through with investigating Barr, regardless of what may be revealed at the next hearing.

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