Mimi Rocah spent nearly 17 years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, working in both Republican and Democratic administrations. She said that there was never the sense that there is now that the office was under political control.
Rocah, an MSNBC and NBC News legal analyst, professor at Pace Law School and Democratic candidate for Westchester County District Attorney, is this week’s guest on the Miranda Warnings podcast.
She discusses the firing of former US Attorney Geoffery Berman, the role Attorney General William Barr played in the saga and how in her opinion, Barr lied to Congress during his testimony on July 28.
“I feel very confident in saying this, but Barr lied, it wasn’t confusion, he lied,” Rocah said. “At the hearing, he tried to dance around that and say, ‘Well, when I said that he stepped down, that’s just terminology. He did step down, he just didn’t know it yet.’ Anyone who has ever been involved in a workplace knows that when someone says they stepped down, that means they did something voluntarily, and he got caught in that lie.”
Rocah commended Berman for his reaction and conduct, rejecting the initial press release announcing that he was ‘stepping down’ and releasing his own statement at a time when it would have the most impact.
“I really have to applaud Berman for doing something that in today’s world is unfortunately remarkable,” Rocah said. “He called out Barr on the lie, quickly. He didn’t wait months until he had a book to write. He did it at a time when it mattered so it had an impact.”
Rocah also talks about her experience working under Barr’s predecessors John Ashcroft and Eric Holder.
“Each attorney general had a memo named after them that talked about their principles of protection and sentencing,” Rocah said to show host David Miranda. “For example, the Holder memo talked about not always seeking the highest sentence and not always bringing the highest possible charge, but with sensible guidelines about that, whereas the Ashcroft memo before that had largely said kind of the opposite of that.”
Rocah also discusses Barr’s intervening in the cases of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, three political allies of President Donald Trump. All three had been found guilty or plead guilty to charges ranging from tax and bank fraud to making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering.
“We’re seeing the attorney general intervening in cases to reward or punish people who could harm or not harm the president in perfectly legal ways,” Rocah said. “That’s what they do in totalitarian and dictator regimes; they use the justice system to reward and punish friends and foes of the leader.”