U.S. Senate investigators are probing a whistleblower’s complaint charging that a political appointee may have “meddled” with an IRS audit of either President Donald Trump’s or Vice President Mike Pence’s taxes, or the returns of both.
Of note is the investigation is bipartisan, and is moving forward, The Washington Post reports.
Investigators are on the staffs of both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Vice Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR).
Staffers met with the whistleblower last month and follow up interviews are being scheduled.
The whistleblower is identified only as a “career IRS official.”
Last month the whistleblower reportedly said they were “told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit.”
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Facing Subpoena and Calls for Impeachment Embattled AG Barr Agrees to Testify Before Congress – In 5 Weeks
Attorney General Bill Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee rather than risk a likely subpoena and court fight. His testimony will not be until July 28, nearly five weeks from today.
Barr’s spokesperson made the announcement, framing it as a casual appearance.
The Attorney General has accepted an invitation to appear before the House Judiciary Committee for a general oversight hearing on July 28th.
— Kerri Kupec DOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) June 24, 2020
Barr is facing growing calls for his impeachment or for him to resign over what many – including two DOJ whistleblowers testifying before the House Wednesday – are calling his extreme politicization of the Justice Dept.
This will be the first time Barr has appeared before Congress to testify in more than a year. Barr was supposed to appear before the House on March 31 but did not. On June 1 he told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler that “he would not appear at a hearing that the committee wanted to hold on June 9,” Roll Call reported.
Barr testified before the Senate on May 1 of last year. Also last year Barr testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee on April 9 and a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on April 10.
‘Barr Lied’: AG Tried to Fire US Attorney for SDNY – Berman Says ‘I Have Not Resigned’ and He’s Not Leaving: Reports
The US Attorney for the powerful Southern District of New York did not resign and is not “stepping down.” Attorney General Bill Barr declared in a late Friday night press release that Geoffrey Berman “is stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service.”
That was a false claim.
Katherine Faulders, an investigative reporter covering the White House and Capitol Hill for ABC News reports Berman was “fired.”
US Atty for SDNY Geoffrey Berman was fired. The news came as a shock tonight. Sources close to him & DOJ official say AG Barr offered him other positions including head of Civil Division at main justice and Berman declined. News via me @alex_mallin & @AaronKatersky
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) June 20, 2020
Berman says not only did he not resign, he learned of Barr’s intentions only after the press release had been published. And he says he has no intention of resigning – he will stay in his job until the Sensate confirms his replacement.
“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney,” Berman said in a statement, ABC News reports. “I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”
“Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption,” he continued. “I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor – and intend to ensure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded.”
Former SDNY prosecutor Mimi Rocah says Barr “lied.”
Barr lied in writing about firing a US Attorney.
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) June 20, 2020
The New York Times adds the stand off sets “up a crisis within the Justice Department over one of its most prestigious jobs.”
Barr Blasted for Wrongly Suggesting Obama and Biden Abused Their Power, Had ‘Level of Involvement’ in Russia Probe
Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire for wrongly suggesting former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden abused their power and had some “level of involvement” in the FBI’s investigation of now-President Donald Trump.
On Monday Barr announced that he does not “expect” the federal prosecutor he appointed to lead that investigation “will lead to a criminal prosecution of either man.”
But Barr also suggested both men had engaged in an abuse of power, without offering any proof, in what some see as a clear attempt to disparage them.
“We have to bear in mind what the Supreme Court recently reminded us of in the ‘Bridgegate’ case. As the court said there, there’s a difference between an abuse of power and a federal crime. Not every abuse of power, no matter how outrageous, is necessarily a federal crime,” Barr declared.
“Now, as to President Obama and Vice President Biden – whatever their level of involvement – based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man.”
Barr says he does not “expect” that the ongoing review of the Trump-Russia probe will lead to a criminal investigation of Barack Obama or Joe Biden: “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others” https://t.co/HcJ4ge7ZNj pic.twitter.com/N7F0WvaeFE
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 18, 2020
Barr is known to choose his words very carefully, to paint the picture he wants Americans to see. A federal judge has already chastised him for his four-page Mueller investigation letter, calling it “distorted” and “misleading.”
And by declaring there won’t be a “criminal investigation,” he gets the words “criminal” and “investigation” or “prosecution” tied to both Democrats in the press.
His remarks immediately led to headlines like these:
“Barr says he does not expect criminal investigation of Obama or Biden as result of Durham probe”
“Barr Says Probe Won’t Likely Lead to Prosecution of Obama, Biden”
“Barr Says He Doesn’t Expect Criminal Probe Into Obama or Biden”
On social media many saw through Barr’s tactics:
OMG Barr is the most corrupt and biased politician ever to hold the office of AG. Obama and Biden did nothing wrong, but Barr is attempting to imply that they did. Putin would be proud (and I’m sure he is). #GOPCorruptionOverCountry
— Andrea Nikischer (@AndreaNikischer) May 18, 2020
Goalposts: it should be laughable to suggest a criminal investigation.
They did NOTHING to even warrant the discussion.
This is how Barr/Trump work w the media accomplices.
Now it’s out there that Obama/Biden won’t be investigated, not that there is nothing to investigate
— Henry (@Fdr1942) May 18, 2020
And the whatever their involvement mentioned line is complete underhanded bullshit. Joe Biden is running g for President and the AG is insinuating he’s some kind of criminal Biden’s record over 40 years speaks for itself. Barr is a scumbag, his record speaks for itself https://t.co/k9sYQZAHZw
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) May 18, 2020
Barr leaves miles of room to do one or more of the following:
(a) accuse Biden/Obama of “abuse of power”
(b) suggest that Biden/Obama would have been charged with crimes had they not been VP/POTUS;
(c) uncover new “evidence” that leads to criminally charging one or both men.
— Bill Barr Baggins (@LogicHobbit) May 18, 2020
Yes…just leaving that “whatever their level of involvement” nugget floating out there.
What a scummy corrupt SOB!
— Ava Hunch 🤞🏻🙏🏻🤞🏻 (@Annie1But) May 18, 2020
Barr implying that Obama and Biden’s actions were outrageous but not rising to the level of a crime, after the exact same people said DOJ shouldn’t make derogatory statements about people’s actions, and in particular, candidates during an election, without charging them like 🤔
— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 18, 2020
Bill Barr says he won’t investigate Obama or Biden or Trump (Ha!), but let’s get something clear. What he should have said was, “there is nothing there to investigate because Trump is making stuff up.”
— Karen 🇺🇸🧶❤🐑🐄🍒🚜🌽🌊 (@karenknitssocks) May 18, 2020
What an odd statement from an AG, making statements about investigations that don’t exist https://t.co/mpfeOUV8TH
— Carrie Cordero (@carriecordero) May 18, 2020
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