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WATCH LIVE: DOJ Whistleblowers Allege Political Interference In Big Cases

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., is pictured on June 17. His panel is holding a hearing on the Justice Department and allegations of political interference on Wednesday.
Pool, Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., is pictured on June 17. His panel is holding a hearing on the Justice Department and allegations of political interference on Wednesday.

Updated at 1:46 p.m. ET

Justice Department witnesses told House lawmakers on Wednesday they've observed political interference in big cases, including those involving a friend of President Trump.

Two lawyers are appearing at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee to detail their concerns, which were revealed on Tuesday in written testimony they prepared ahead of time.

Watch the hearing live.

Aaron Zelinsky, who has worked at the department since 2014, told the committee that top leadership of the Justice Department leaned on the U.S. Attorney's Office for Washington, D.C., to go easy on Trump's friend Roger Stone.

"What I saw was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from every other defendant ... this leniency was happening because of Stone's relationship with the president," Zelinsky said.

The other witness is John W. Elias, who has worked as a career lawyer at the Justice Department for presidents of both political parties.

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Elias described what he called alleged abuse of power by the department in service of the administration's political ends — acts serious enough to prompt the lawyer to report them to the inspector general and now, to Congress.

NPR's Carrie Johnson detailed their accounts here.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday said the allegations were based on hearsay and subjective perceptions, not on solid facts or any personal contact with Attorney General William Barr.

And in the case of Elias' allegations, Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins argued that an internal investigation had rejected his claims about improper activity within the antitrust division.

Partisan acrimony

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., excoriated Barr on Wednesday for what he called a pattern of abuse of power.

"In his Department of Justice, the president's allies get special treatment and the president's enemies — real and imaged — are targeted for extra scrutiny," Nadler said. "The needs of the people and the needs of justice are generally ignored."

Nadler faulted Barr for resisting oversight by Congress, but Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said on Twitter during the hearing that Barr would appear before the panel next month.

Ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that Barr is only trying to right lingering wrongs that he said have carried over from what Jordan called the politicization of the Justice Department under President Barack Obama.

"Bill Barr just simply wants to get the bottom of all this — and that's political?" Jordan said. "When the politics was in the previous administration?"

The hearing was often shrill. Members squabbled over the rules of the proceeding. When one witnesses' testimony ran over a five minute limit, Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert began making a tapping sound on his desk. Democrats complained they couldn't hear what was being said.

Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson asked Nadler about ordering the sergeant at arms to remove Gohmert. The chairman didn't pursue that idea and recognized the next witness, but the acrimonious tone for the session continued.

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