What Was Behind Barr’s Friday Night Massacre?

Rudy Giuliani might have just explained it.

The last time Rudy Giuliani’s co-conspirator Lev Parnas spoke publicly was January 16, 2020, when he sat for interviews with both Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper. Along with providing details about Trump’s extortion efforts with the Ukrainian president, he made this rather explosive claim about the role of Attorney General William Barr in the Trump administration.

Parnas actually said that he was more frightened of people in our Justice Department than he was of the mobsters he was turning on in Ukraine.

Parnas’s trial was originally scheduled to begin in early October, but due to the coronavirus, it has been delayed until February 2021, well after the November election. The prosecutors that have been investigating this matter work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York—where Barr just ousted Geoffrey Berman.

Knowing that he was a target of that investigation, Giuliani went on a bit of a rant about those prosecutors during an interview with Olivia Nuzzi last December.

And then there’s the Southern District of New York, the biggest betrayal of all. That was supposed to be his world, full of his guys; he ran the office for most of the ’80s. It was unrecognizable now. “If they’re investigating me, they’re assholes. They’re absolutely assholes if they’re investigating me,” he said…

“If they are, they’re idiots,” he went on. “Then they really are a Trump-deranged bunch of silly New York liberals.”

It should therefore be no surprise that on Monday, Giuliani sat for an interview with Laura Ingraham to spread a whole new conspiracy theory about why Barr wanted to get rid of Berman.

He claimed that Berman was ousted because he failed to investigate the “evidence” Giuliani had turned up about Hunter Biden. Right on queue, John Solomon—another Giuliani co-conspirator—weighed in with “evidence” to back up the claims.

Could the impeachment scandal have been prevented if the now-fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had followed up on Ukrainian allegations about Joe Biden and his family in 2018?

That’s the tantalizing question raised by emails from fall 2018 between an American lawyer and the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan that were obtained by Just the News.

The memos show that well before Ukrainian prosecutors reached out to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, in 2019 to talk about the Bidens and alleged 2016 election interference they first approached Berman’s office in New York in October 2018 via another American lawyer.

The lawyer in question is Bud Cummins, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2001 to 2006. In 2016, he was chair of Trump’s campaign in Arkansas. Then, in 2018, Cummins attempted to set up a meeting between Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, and Berman. But the U.S. Attorney didn’t respond. Solomon and Giuliani aren’t dropping any new bombshells about all of this. The whole thing was reported by Josh Kovensky back in November 2016 at Talking Points Memo.

There are a couple of problems with this attempt to smear Berman. The first is that Lutsenko has already admitted that the allegations he was attempting to sell were lies. In other words, Berman made the right call when he ignored them.

But when Barr made his move to get rid of Berman, he undercut any attempt to claim that the decision was based on job performance issues by publicly offering Berman two other positions that actually amounted to promotions. Here is what the attorney general wrote in his letter to Berman.

When the Department of Justice advised the public of the President’s intent to nominate your successor, I had understood that we were in ongoing discussions concerning the possibility of your remaining in the Department or Administration in one of the other senior positions we discussed, including Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

If Barr thought that Berman had failed to follow-up on a major case, he wouldn’t have offered him two other plum positions in the administration. He simply would have had him fired for cause.

So as speculation mounts about why Barr was so intent on getting rid of the U.S. Attorney in charge of the Southern District of New York, it is worth noting that two of the people who could be implicated in the Trump-Giuliani extortion scheme are trying to preemptively smear Berman.

While it is true that there are a whole host of possible investigations Barr might have been attempting to obstruct, there is an old idiom about how it is the stuck pig who does all of the squealing. Giuliani and Solomon just gave us our first hint about why Barr might have wanted to get rid of Berman. It is very possible that prosecutors in the SDNY have been able to corroborate the claims made by Parnas about Trump’s extortion scheme. That could include criminal acts by both the president and his lawyer.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.