Jul 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman
Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.

  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters after emerging from the hearing: "We don't know yet if the attorney general's conduct is criminal, but that kind of quid pro quo is awfully close to bribery."
  • Ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) called Nadler's comments "ridiculous," pointing to the fact that Berman testified he and Barr did not talk about any specific cases.

Highlights:

  • "The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that, while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign."
  • "Sometime after 9:14 p.m., on Friday, I became aware that DOJ issued a press release that I would be, quote, stepping down, unquote. That statement was false."
  • "I do not know what the Attorney General's motives were, but the irregular and unexplained actions by the Attorney General raised serious concerns for me."
  • “Firing me and then bypassing my deputy, Audrey Strauss, to place [New Jersey prosecutor Craig] Carpenito in charge of the office would have caused significant disruption and delay to the investigations the office was handling.”
  • "My sole goal was to ensure that the investigations that were ongoing would go forward without disruption and delay. And that's why, when ultimately Audrey Strauss was appointed as acting U.S. attorney and I was confident that those investigations would go forward, I did not challenge my firing and stepped down."

Worth noting: Berman declined to answer questions related to specific cases that his former office is reported to be handling, noting that they were outside the parameters of the voluntary interview to which he had agreed.

Read the full transcript via DocumentCloud.

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