On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Attorney General William Barr tried to interfere in the case of President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen — even after he pleaded guilty.
“Shortly after he became attorney general last year, William P. Barr set out to challenge a signature criminal case that touched President Trump’s inner circle directly, and even the president’s own actions: the prosecution of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer,” reported Benjamin Weiser, Ben Protess, Katie Benner and William K. Rashbaum. “The debate between Mr. Barr and the federal prosecutors who brought the case against Mr. Cohen was one of the first signs of a tense relationship that culminated last weekend in the abrupt ouster of Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It also foreshadowed Mr. Barr’s intervention in the prosecutions of other associates of Mr. Trump.”
“At one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter,” continued the report. “The prosecutors in New York resisted the effort, the people said, and a Justice Department official said Mr. Barr did not instruct them to withdraw the case.”
Cohen’s deal was struck in 2018, before Barr was sworn in. He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bank fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations surrounding the hush payment scheme to adult film star Stormy Daniels to cover up her affair with Trump.
This report comes one day after DOJ prosecutors testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Barr had engaged in a pattern of political interference at the department, including attempts to guarantee leniency for Trump’s former campaign strategist and personal friend Roger Stone.