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Geoffrey Berman, a former US attorney, says the DOJ under Donald Trump pressured the office to ‘help them politically’, according to the NYT

“Throughout my tenure as an American lawyer,” Berman writes in his forthcoming book according to the Times, which has obtained a copy, “Trump’s Justice Department has consistently demanded that I uses my office to help them politically, and I kept refusing – somehow just tactfully enough to save myself from being fired.”
“Holding the Line,” due for release Tuesday, and includes Berman’s accounts comes amid a legal battle between Trump and the current Justice Department after he seized classified documents from his Mar-a- Lake in August.

In the book, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York details efforts by the Trump administration’s Justice Department to have words alluding to Trump removed from indictment documents for Michael Cohen, a reported the Times. Berman also writes how former Attorney General Bill Barr tried to have Cohen’s conviction overturned in 2018.

Before Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including campaign finance violations, Berman writes that while his office was drafting a charging document listing the crimes, a Justice Department official made unsuccessfully pressured then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Khuzami for the Southern District of New York. remove references to “Individual-1,” which was identified as Trump, according to the newspaper. Barr, after becoming attorney general in 2019, also tried to kill the district’s investigations into other members of Trump’s inner circle regarding possible campaign finance violations, the newspaper also writes, citing Berman’s book.
Berman writes that his office was ordered to suspend investigative steps and that “not a single document in our possession could be reviewed,” according to the Times. Audrey Strauss, who succeeded Khuzami, convinced Barr that there was no reason to dismiss the charges against Cohen, Berman also writes. Khuzami oversaw Cohen’s case because Berman was recused in that case after being returned to the office by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Barr declined to comment to CNN on Berman’s allegations in his book. CNN also reached out to Ed O’Callaghan, then acting senior assistant deputy attorney general, for comment on Thursday.

Barr reviewed Cohen’s prosecution and expressed concern that prosecutors used the wrong provision of the law, according to a person familiar with the episode. Strauss and other prosecutors prepared memos that ultimately agreed with Barr’s criticism, but the guilty plea was unaffected, which Barr was happy with.

Berman also writes that the Justice Department wanted to pursue an investigation of former Secretary of State John Kerry, whom Trump accused in 2019 of violating Logan’s Law by participating in negotiations with the Iranian government. Kerry, who denied the allegations, was not informed of the investigation, according to Berman. After nearly a year of investigation, Berman writes that he told the Justice Department his office would not prosecute Kerry and that a senior adviser to Barr told him they would take the case to the office of another American lawyer, who also came to the same conclusion.

CNN’s Kara Scannell contributed to this report.


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