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Bill Barr. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced on Tuesday he has issued subpoenas for two Department of Justice whistleblowers as part of the committee's probe into alleged politicization of the agency under President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr.

Why it matters: One of the officials, Aaron Zelinsky, resigned from the team that was prosecuting Trump associate Roger Stone after Barr intervened to soften Stone's sentencing recommendation.

  • The other, John Elias, was reportedly looking into a fuel efficiency deal between large automakers and the state of California. Democrats have called the probe politically motivated.
  • The two will testify before the committee, along with former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, on June 24.

The big picture: Barr has been accused of acting as Trump's personal lawyer throughout his tenure. He has launched and overseen aggressive investigations into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe, including one led by veteran prosecutor John Durham that could result in criminal charges leading up to November's election.

  • More than 2,000 former DOJ officials have signed onto a pair of statements calling on Barr to resign for his interventions in the Stone case and the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The DOJ is currently seeking to drop charges against Flynn, but is facing resistance from the judge overseeing the case.
  • Barr denied doing "the president's bidding" in an interview with CBS News last month, arguing that "partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice."

What to watch: Nadler has threatened to cut funding to Barr's office at the Justice Department due to the attorney general's refusal to testify before the committee.

What they're saying:

“Again and again, Attorney General Barr has demonstrated that he will cater to President Trump’s private political interests, at the expense of the American people and the rule of law.  He has abruptly reversed course on prosecutions against the President’s allies and friends.  He has pursued pretextual investigations against the President’s perceived political enemies.  He has failed to defend the Affordable Care Act, and he has helped to roll back important civil rights protections. ...
The Attorney General—who cites his busy schedule as a basis for refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee but has made time for multiple television interviews—may have abdicated his responsibility to Congress, but the brave men and women of our civil service have not.
— Chairman Nadler

Go deeper

Sep 24, 2020 - Technology

Justice circles Big Tech with regulatory threats

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Department of Justice proposed legislation to curb liability protections for tech platforms and moved a step closer toward an antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday.

The big picture: As President Trump faces re-election, lawmakers and regulators are hurriedly wrapping up investigations and circling Big Tech with regulatory threats.

House Democrats unveil sweeping reforms package to curtail presidential abuses

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled sweeping legislation aimed at preventing presidential abuse and corruption, strengthening transparency and accountability, and protecting elections from foreign interference.

Why it matters: While the bill has practically no chance of becoming law while Trump is in office and Republicans hold the Senate, it's a pre-election message from Democrats on how they plan to govern should Trump lose in November. It also gives Democratic members an anti-corruption platform to run on in the weeks before the election.

Trump nominates former Nunes aide to be intelligence community watchdog

Devin Nunes. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday announced his intent to nominate National Security Council official Allen Souza, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), to serve as the inspector general of the intelligence community.

Why it matters: Trump fired the IC's previous inspector general Michael Atkinson for his handling of a whistleblower complaint about the president's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Atkinson's decision to turn over the complaint to Congress ultimately led to Trump's impeachment.