Politico

Democrats tap Norm Eisen to consult on House Judiciary Committee

House Democrats leading a sweeping set of investigations into President Donald Trump and his administration announced Tuesday they’ve added two heavyweight legal consultants to the Judiciary Committee.

Norm Eisen, a former White House lawyer in the Obama administration and an outspoken Trump critic, is signing on as a part-time counsel to help Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler conduct oversight of the Justice Department and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Also joining Nadler’s team is Barry Berke, a New York-based criminal defense attorney who has handled a series of white-collar cases.

“We are fortunate to be adding the insight and expertise of two widely respected legal authorities to the staff of the House Judiciary Committee as we look to restore accountability, safeguard our democracy, and protect the rule of law,” Nadler said in a prepared statement.

Nadler’s committee is front and center in the Democrat-led push to examine a range of Trump administration policies, and it would be the primary venue for any potential impeachment proceedings against Trump. Last Friday, the panel held a six-plus hour hearing with outgoing acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that examined his temporary leadership at the Justice Department at critical stages of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In his statement announcing the addition of Eisen and Berke, Nadler noted Trump “faces numerous allegations of corruption and obstruction.”

“His conduct and crude statements threaten the basic legal, ethical, and constitutional norms that maintain our democratic institutions,” the New York Democrat added. “Congress has a constitutional duty to be a check and balance against abuses of power when necessary. Before anything else, however, we have to follow the facts and conduct the sort of oversight that has been completely absent over the last two years.”

Nadler’s new consultants haven’t been shy about their feelings about Trump.

Eisen in particular has maintained a constant presence — in interviews, published op-eds and through his perch at CREW — commenting on the president’s rise to power and the legal problems he’s found himself in.

“It’s unreal. It’s like a full-employment plan for government ethicists, for White House ethicists,” Eisen told POLITICO Magazine in December 2016, when he was leading the public calls for Trump to put his private business holdings into a blind trust, a move that the president ultimately opted against.

Berke and Eisen have also partnered in a series of opinion articles suggesting Trump has already committed obstruction of justice that could put him on the verge of a criminal indictment. Last August, for example, they predicted Mueller “is surely reaching the same conclusion, which means it is highly likely that Mueller will refer an obstruction case to Congress for further action.”

According to a Democratic aide, Eisen will remain part-time at the Brookings Institution but will step down from his post as board chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the watchdog group he co-founded in 2003. Berke is expected to work about four days a week for the House committee but plans to also stay on as a partner at his law firm, Kramer Levin.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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