According to the Bennett Report, Councilmember Marion S. Barry Jr. attempted to monitor the testimony of potential witnesses. The scope of Barry’s alleged behind-the-scenes activities extends beyond pressuring Donna Watts-Brighthaupt to withhold key evidence from authorities.
According to the report, Barry told Watts-Brighthaupt about his concern that another crony, Rev. Anthony Motley was deposed without a lawyer present. “He was against that,” Watts-Brighthaupt told Bennett’s team. “He told him not to come. But he believes Reverend Motley did okay.”
Barry also reached out to Brenda Richardson, who ran the fishy non-profits, and inquired about her own testimony. Bennett’s team writes in their report:
“Apparently, Mr. Barry attempted to monitor the Council’s inquiry by talking to witnesses who had been interviewed or deposed. Ms. Watts-Brighthaupt testified that in her presence Mr. Barry called Ms. Richardson on his cell phone, inquired ‘How did you do?’ listened as Ms. Richardson ‘spoke for a while,’ and after hanging up, told her that Ms. Richardson said, ‘I think I did okay.'”
Barry, during his own deposition, was asked about his meddling. Bennett’s team found his answers not credible.
According to the Bennett report, Barry stated in his deposition: “any allegations that I tried to discourage anyone from cooperating with this investigation is absolutely false, false, false.” Anyone making that allegation is a “liar.”
But Barry did admit that he may have mentioned Scott Bolden to Watts-Brighthaupt and may have mentioned several lawyers in town who were assisting individuals in the investigation. He could not recall whether he discouraged Watts-Brighthaupt from turning over her hard drive to authorities.
As the deposition was coming to a close, Barry announced that he would like to make a statement to Bennett’s team. He addressed the allegations that he tried to hinder the investigation:
“You had a question about advising not to cooperate, et cetera. I want to make it crystal clear I’ve not done that. There’s no reason to. I think that I’ve followed whatever procedures there were —- that were there or lack thereafter [sic], in some instances, so I just wanted to again reiterate that, if people make allegations about any and everything, but I have nothing but respect for this process, I voted for the Resolution. Anybody asked me about why I voted for it, because I believe it’s the right thing to do.
So therefore, having done that, I would not go behind, trying to hide anything or cover anything. There’s nothing to cover up from my perspective.”
The Bennett Report’s response:
“As the findings make clear, Special Counsel does not credit Council Member Barry’s testimony in significant aspects. To the contrary, Special Council finds there is substantial evidence that Mr. Barry engaged in conduct to impede the Council’s investigation. This conduct may implicate criminal laws respecting obstruction and false testimony, and should be referred to appropriate authorities for investigation.”
*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.