President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented executive order Thursday to upend the established rules of succession for U.S. attorneys, installing a loyalist to Attorney General William Barr as head prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
Seth DuCharme, a career prosecutor in the EDNY, had been detailed to the Justice Department in D.C., first as special counselor to Barr, and at the end of the year took over as principal deputy coordinating the work of the nation’s U.S. attorneys. He will now succeed Richard Donoghue, who is heading to Washington to take the slot DuCharme is vacating. Unknown is whether Donoghue, who coordinated the Ukraine investigations, including those of Rudy Giuliani and Hunter Biden, would continue that oversight from D.C. or whether DuCharme would take over the role.
Donoghue’s resignation initially was to take effect just after midnight Monday, but on Friday afternoon he made his departure effective immediately.
July 10, 2020
New York Times
Geoffrey S. Berman, whom President Trump abruptly dismissed last month as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, told lawmakers on Thursday that Attorney General William P. Barr tried unsuccessfully to pressure him to resign voluntarily, warning that being fired could ruin his career.
Testifying privately before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Berman recounted being summoned with no warning in June to a meeting with Mr. Barr at the Pierre Hotel in New York. The attorney general asked him to step down and offered him prominent government posts if he would do so. Mr. Berman said he rebuffed Mr. Barr time and again during what he described as a tense, 45-minute discussion, telling him he would not resign and he did not want to be fired.
Mr. Barr repeatedly tried to change Mr. Berman’s mind, he testified, warning “that getting fired from my job would not be good for my résumé or future job prospects.”
“I told the attorney general that there were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion,” Mr. Berman told the committee members.
July 9, 2020
WEST WING EYEBROW RAISER … THE SWAMP CREEPS CLOSE TO THE PRESIDENT! … On two occasions over the last few days, CHRIS COX — who runs House outreach for the White House legislative affairs office — suggested to colleagues he was doing errands and collecting political intelligence for lobbyist friends on K Street.
— COX told colleagues in the White House that he was seeking information on the executive orders that President DONALD TRUMP was readying to issue so he could brief people downtown — in other words, suggesting he wanted to give lobbyists a sneak peek.
— ON WEDNESDAY, COX emailed with fellow White House aides and officials on the National Security Council, seeking to push along an exemption for Gulfstream to deliver private jets overseas after he had a conversation with General Dynamics’ lobbyist. A spokesman for General Dynamics declined to comment.
AS THE TOP HOUSE LEG AFFAIRS OFFICIAL, COX’S job is primarily to help execute the administration’s priorities on Capitol Hill. He worked in the legislative affairs shop during GEORGE W. BUSH’S administration. Prior to joining the White House in March, COX himself was a lobbyist.
IT WAS NOTABLE TO MANY PEOPLE at all levels of the White House that he was openly collecting political intelligence for corporate special interests and lobbyists on K Street from deep inside the sanctum of the White House.
July 9, 2020
As much as $273 million in federal coronavirus aid was awarded to more than 100 companies that are owned or operated by major donors to President Donald Trump’s election efforts, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.
Many were among the first to be approved for a loan in early April, when the administration was struggling to launch the lending program. And only eight businesses had to wait until early May before securing the aid, according to the AP’s review of data released Monday.
The Trump-connected companies obtained the aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extends a lifeline to small businesses struggling to navigate the pandemic. Fast-food chains like Muy Brands, oil and gas companies and white-collar firms were all granted a slice of more than $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if the money is used on payroll, rent and similar expenses.
All told, the Trump supporters who run these companies have contributed at least $11.1 million since May 2015 to Trump’s campaign committees, the Republican National Committee and America First Action, a super PAC that has been endorsed by Trump, the AP review found. Each donor gave at least $20,000.
July 7, 2020