Top Democratic advisers on impeachment probe leaving Capitol Hill
Two high-profile attorneys who worked for the House Judiciary Committee and played a key role in the impeachment of President Donald Trump are expected to leave the panel, the latest indication House Democrats are shifting their focus away from full-on investigations into Trump and focusing on issues central to the 2020 campaign.
Barry Berke confirmed to CNN Friday he has left the Judiciary Committee, and Norm Eisen is also expected to depart from the panel soon, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Berke and Eisen were hired as consultants for the committee in February 2019, in what was seen at the time as a sign the committee was gearing up for possible impeachment proceedings.
“It was the honor of a lifetime to serve as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee under the extraordinary leadership of Chairman Nadler during this critical period in our nation’s history,” Berke said in a statement. “I am very proud to have worked with Chairman Nadler, the remarkable members of the Committee, the incredible House managers and the supremely talented and dedicated staff who fight for our country every day.”
Berke and Eisen were senior advisers to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee approved the two articles of impeachment, and they both questioned witnesses during the Judiciary Committee’s public impeachment hearings last year. The lawyers also played a key role in the committee’s investigation into possible obstruction of justice, a probe that’s still looming — with the court fight ongoing over former White House counsel Don McGahn’s subpoena to testify before the committee.
Berke is a prominent New York criminal defense attorney, and is a partner at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, a top white-collar litigation practice in the city. Eisen was co-founder of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and served in the Obama White House as special counsel for ethics and government reform.
Their departures are not surprising given that the impeachment trial has concluded. Berke, Eisen and former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman, the House Intelligence Committee’s director of investigations, were all hired as Democrats took control of the House last year and the committees prepared for the end of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. While both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees held hearings where Mueller testified, the House pursued an investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment in December on another topic: soliciting election help from Ukraine in announcing an investigation into his political rivals while withholding US security aid.