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Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) presides over a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee in 2019. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Nadler Says 'Waste of Time,' But Progressives Say 'Impeach Barr'—and Do It Now

"Investigating and impeaching Barr ahead of the November election would be a powerful sign that the work of restoring the rule of law in America is well underway, even before the first presidential ballot is cast."

Eoin Higgins

Progressives are calling for Attorney General William Barr to be impeached for involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman over the weekend, rejecting House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler's claim that the exercise would be pointless due to the Republican Senate majority's unwillingness to hold President Donald Trump's White House accountable for its corruption and abuses of power.

"I don't think calls for his impeachment are premature any more than calls for the president's impeachment were premature, but they are a waste of time at this point because we know that we have a corrupt Republican majority in the Senate which will not consider an impeachment no matter what the evidence," Nadler, a New York Democrat, told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday.

The comments were an example of the "mental gymnastics" required to avoid holding the attorney general accountable, tweeted Nadler's primary opponent Lindsey Boylan.

"If America is to survive as a functioning democracy on the other side of this mess, we have to squeeze out some time for preserving what's left of the rule of law in our increasingly authoritarian nation, and then start to rebuild it," the Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch wrote Sunday. 

In order to ensure a semblance of the rule of law survives, Bunch continued, Barr must be removed from office.

"Investigating and impeaching Barr ahead of the November election would be a powerful sign that the work of restoring the rule of law in America is well underway, even before the first presidential ballot is cast," wrote Bunch.

As Common Dreams reported, Trump's firing of Berman Saturday came at Barr's request. Berman was investigating Trump associates and Turkish firms in the U.S.—actions that were making the Southern District of New York federal prosecutor a White House enemy.

The attorney general, having failed to force Berman's resignation, turned to the president to remove the Southern District of New York prosecutor because Berman would not step down voluntarily. 

"The corruption and politicization of the Department of Justice under William Barr is now complete," The Intercept's James Risen wrote Monday. "It will take a generation to reestablish its credibility and independence."

In a statement on Barr's involvement with Berman's firing, Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn said "Congress cannot allow these abuses to stand" and urged lawmakers to take action.

"Common Cause called for William Barr's impeachment in December 2019 and we renew that call today," said Flynn. "Barr's attempted Friday night firing of Berman is yet another example of Barr's willingness to damage our nation's system of justice to protect President Trump and the Republican Party."

While Nadler's committee plans to hear testimony over the firing in a previously scheduled Wednesday hearing on Barr's politicization of the Justice Department, that was seen as insufficient by critics. 

In a petition calling on Congress to impeach the attorney general, advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) charges Barr "has repeatedly attacked the integrity of our justice system in order to personally and politically benefit the president and his allies."

"He has undermined the idea that all Americans are entitled to equal justice under law," the petition continues. "His recent actions against protestors demonstrate a willingness to abuse his power in service of the president's racist agenda. Congress must remove Barr from office before he does further damage to our democracy and to Americans' safety."

In an opinion piece Tuesday, CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder said that while all hope in the system was not lost, the American public and Congress must remain vigilant, citing the president's multiple instances of firing whistleblowers and prosecutors seen as disloyal or investigating him or his family.

"We must register each Friday Night Massacre as the unacceptable assault that it is," wrote Bookbinder. "We must demand that Congress conduct real oversight of the president, legislate protections for inspectors general and U.S. attorneys and independent oversight, and begin proceedings to impeach and remove a breathtakingly dangerous attorney general."

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