What’s the latest in the sewer that is the United States Department of Justice, you ask. Well, the federal government can kill people again—deliberately, that is, and not out of incompetence and neglect—something that I know we’ve all missed over the past two decades.
So there’s that. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday released the full transcript of the testimony it took last week from Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was forced out clumsily by William Barr, the White House’s personal-injury lawyer. From his opening statement—indeed, from the way he held Barr’s feet to the fire over his departure from that job—Berman clearly demonstrated that he has no use for the kind of vandalism being conducted at DOJ. His testimony fills in a lot of the details, and the details are distressing as all hell. As it turns out, the folks at Camp Runamuck are worse villains when they’re trying to finesse things than they are when they’re using the meat-ax on institutions. Berman’s account of his dismissal is high-larious.
I searched my personal phone records for the time period between the 7:21 p.m. call and the date of his—and about 9:10, which was the time of his press release, I could find no calls on the number that I gave him to contact me from either the Attorney General or anyone on his staff. I could not search the records from my work cell phone because that was turned off soon after I was fired on Saturday. But I know that there was no email, text message, or voicemail on either my personal phone or my work phone between my conversation with the Attorney General in the afternoon of the 19th and the release of the Attorney General’s press release, the evening of the 19th.
Q: Mr. Berman, what was your reaction to the 9 p.m. press release?
A: Well, in that press release, what he outlined, which was that Craig Carpenito would come in as acting U.S. attorney, someone from outside of the office, immediately was exactly what I thought was going to happen had I resigned based on my conversation with the Attorney General the afternoon of Friday. And let me just say that the appointment of Craig Carpenito or anyone from outside of the Southern District of New York as an acting U.S. attorney and bypassing Audrey Strauss, the universally respected deputy of the United States Attorney’s Office, was something that would cause a disruption and delay in our investigations. I’m not questioning Carpenito’s honesty or integrity, but all of these events were irregular and unexplained and raised serious concerns for me. Firing me and then bypassing my deputy Audrey Strauss to place Carpenito in charge of the office would have caused significant disruption and delay in the investigations the office was handling.
Which was, of course, the point. But Berman carefully danced around any questions regarding Barr’s motivations in firing him, refusing to speculate on why Barr might want to remove someone overseeing the investigations of the president* whom Barr is breaking rocks with his head in order to protect. It was left to White House lawn ornament Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, to provide the comic relief that is so necessary to dismal accountings like this one.
Mr. Gaetz: Why are you so concerned — when you say an outsider, you define an outsider as any person that does not work in the office of the Southern District, right?
Mr. Berman: An outsider I would define as anyone who is not the logical and normal successor, which would be the deputy United States attorney.
Mr. Gaetz: So any person other than the one person who is your handpicked deputy is an outsider, pursuant to your definition? There is only one person who’s an insider, every other human on the Planet Earth is an outsider.
No Martians Need Apply.
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