Who is Barry Berke, the Outside Lawyer Who Ran the Show in Lewandowski Hearing?
After hours of a mostly fruitless back-and-forth between Corey Lewandowski and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, criminal defense lawyer Barry Berke became the star of Tuesday’s hearing after his expert cross-examination of the Trump 2016 campaign manager.
Berke — who is currently on leave at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel law firm, where he is a partner — was brought on as a House Judiciary consultant to aid in the committee’s continued inquiries into President Donald Trump and his White House, post-Mueller report. During his 30 minutes of questioning, the lawyer’s most notable moment was getting Lewandowski to admit that he lied in past public statements.
After playing a clip of a May 2019 interview on MSNBC, in which Lewandowski discussed his comments to the president about the Russia probe, Berke asked the Trump ally, “That was you saying on MSNBC, ‘You don’t ever remember the president ever asking you to get involved with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way, shape, or form?’ That wasn’t true was it, sir?”
“I have no obligation to be honest with the media ’cause they’re just as dishonest as anybody else,” the witness replied.
In Lewandowski’s 2018 interview with Robert Mueller, the ex-Trump campaign aide said the president advised him to tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to release a statement defending Trump and calling for jurisdiction boundaries in the special counsel’s probe.
The moment finally broke through Lewandowski’s stonewalling, as he invoked executive privilege throughout much of the hearing while being flanked by White House lawyers. Despite clearly being taken off guard by Berke’s incorporation of the MSNBC clip, Lewandowski maintained that he has never lied under oath.
“Oh I’m sorry,” Lewandowski seethed at one point. “Nobody in front of Congress has ever lied to the public.”
After Berke asked if he failed to deliver Trump’s message to Sessions due to the questionable legality, Lewandowski shot back, “I didn’t have the privilege of going to Harvard Law School and I’m not an attorney.”
Due to a newly added committee rule, Berke’s headline-grabbing questioning of Lewandowski marked the first time that attorneys have been authorized to directly probe witnesses. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) attempted to keep Berke away from Lewandowski by claiming that he is unauthorized to question the witness due to his work for Judiciary Democrats, rather than being directly employed by the committee, but Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-CA) noted that in the past, Republicans on the committee have used legal consultants to question witnesses. Still, Lewandowski’s attorney Peter Chavkin pushed back against Berke’s questions, saying that they were “unauthorized” and vowing that he will submit a letter protesting the consultant’s appearance.
Berke received much praise for his ability to break down Lewandowski’s walls and rise above the hearing’s drama. Harvard law professor Jennifer Taub said Berke “absolutely killed it” in a tweet, adding, “Every lawyer and law student must watch this segment of the hearing. Such amazing cross-examination of Corey Lewandowski.”
💯Barry Berke absolutely killed it. Every lawyer and law student must watch this segment of the hearing. Such amazing cross-examination of Corey Lewandowski.
From tweet 177 – 206. https://t.co/Dex8p8tpfx
— Jennifer Taub (@jentaub) September 17, 2019
Watch above, via C-SPAN.
Correction: This post initially identified Doug Collins as a Democrat. It has been updated to state he is a Republican.
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