(PresidentialInsider.com)- The Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee announced this week that they will investigate whether the Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump tried to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to protect people considered his allies while also prosecuting some of his critics.
In a letter he wrote to Merrick Garland, the U.S. attorney general, this week, the panel’s chairman, Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, said:
“These reported claims indicate astonishing and unacceptable deviations from the Department’s mission to pursue impartial justice, which requires that its prosecutorial decisions be free from political influence.”
The claims that Durbin refers to in his letter were contained in a new book that was written by a former U.S. attorney serving in the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman. He served two years in while Trump was in the White House, and he also volunteered for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and transition team.
In other words, Berman was once an ally of and believer in Trump, but he has apparently turned his back on him.
In the book, Berman said appointees of the former president pressured the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office to shield some of his allies from prosecution while also targeting some of his critics. At the same time, Berman claims that he was one of the people in the office who was fighting against those efforts at the time.
He further alleges that Trump’s attorney general at the time, William Barr, fired him because what he was doing was threatening to the former president’s chances to get re-elected.
Berman alleged that the DOJ at the time pressured him to serve an indictment on Gregory Craig, even after the office didn’t find any reason to charge him. Craig served as counsel to the White House during the Obama administration.
It didn’t stop there, though. During a media tour Berman took to promote his new book, he also said that he was pressured to start a criminal investigation into John Kerry, who once served as Secretary of State.
All of this angered Durbin, who then decided to move forward with the Senate investigation. As he noted in his letter to Garland:
“[Berman] contends that Department officials pressured his office to remove references to President Trump from the charging document for Michael Cohen, his personal lawyer, as well as later attempts by Attorney General Barr himself to reverse Mr. Cohen’s conviction and stop related investigations entirely.
“[The allegations] compound the already serious concerns” surrounding the efforts Barr took in 2020 “to replace Mr. Berman with a Trump loyalist.”
Berman was finally fired directly by Trump in 2002 after he refused to resign from his post.
The letter Durbin sent to Garland wasn’t just to notify him about the upcoming Senate investigation. He also requested that the DOJ send the committee various documents as well as communications that took place between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the DOJ.
“If accurate, Mr. Berman’s claims indicate multiple instances of political interference in the Department’s investigative and prosecutorial decisions.”