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William (Bill) Barr Is Trump's New Roy Cohn, Trump Flunky and Sycophant

William (Bill) Barr has become Donald J. Trump's new Roy Cohn. Bill Barr is a Trump flunky doing whatever Trump wants him to do to protect Donald J. Trump not the constitution or the American people. Bill Barr oath is to the constitution and America not to Donald J. Trump. Bill Barr job is to protect the constitution and America not to Donald J. Trump. Bill Barr is not doing his job by protecting Donald J. Trump instead of the constitution and America. Bill Barr has corrupted the DOJ and has violated his oath of office. William Barr is most the corrupt attorney general in the history of the United States of America. William Barr oath of office is to America not to Donald J. Trump, William Barr should go to jail for his crimes against America.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) An assistant US attorney in Massachusetts is the latest federal prosecutor to criticize Attorney General William Barr, accusing the top law enforcement official of a "dangerous abuse of power" by politicizing his position and doing the bidding of President Donald Trump. "The attorney general acts as though his job is to serve only the political interests of Donald J. Trump. This is a dangerous abuse of power," James Herbert, an assistant US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, wrote in a letter published Thursday in The Boston Globe.

In June, two Justice Department prosecutors accused senior department officials of politicizing investigations and the sentencing of Trump's longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone. Nearly 2,000 former Justice Department employees in May called on Barr to resign, saying in an open letter he had "assaulted the rule of law" by moving to drop the charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In his letter, Herbert wrote that Barr's remarks at a Hillsdale College event earlier this month, in which he slammed career prosecutors, "compel me to speak out as well." More...

Tom McCarthy

The attorney general has been giving misleading statements on election integrity, and, critics say, has a deep sense of mission about re-electing the president. Donald Trump’s astonishing suggestion at a campaign rally last weekend that the US president will deploy government lawyers to try to hit the brakes on the counting of ballots on election night relies on the complicity of one federal official more than any other. That official is attorney general William Barr, who, as leader of the justice department, directs the army of government lawyers who would sue to halt the counting of votes.

Conveniently for Trump’s stated plan, Barr appears not only ready to acquiesce, he seems eager to bring the lawsuits, having laid groundwork for challenging the election with weeks of misleading statements about the integrity of mail-in voting. To some observers, the attorney general appears to have also laid the groundwork for a further alarming step, one that would answer the question of what action the Trump administration is prepared to take if a contested election in November gives rise to large new protests.

In order for Trump to steal the election and then quell mass demonstrations – for that is the nature of the nightmare scenario now up for open discussion among current and former officials, academics, thinktankers and a lot of other people – Trump must be able to manipulate both the levers of the law and its physical enforcement. In Barr, Trump not only gets all of that, critics say, but he also enjoys the partnership of a man whose sense of biblical stakes around the election imbues him with a deep sense of mission about re-electing Trump. More...

CNN Tonight

During an event at Hillsdale College, Attorney General William Barr suggested that the calls for a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties" in history "other than slavery." Source: CNN Video...

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Thursday slammed Attorney General William Barr for comparing coronavirus lockdowns in the US to slavery, saying the comments are "the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard." "You know, I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I've ever heard," Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House and its highest ranking Black member, told CNN's John Berman on "New Day." "It is incredible that (the) chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives."

Barr made the comparison during an event at Hillsdale College Wednesday after he was asked to explain the "constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19." "You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history," Barr said as a round of applause came from the crowd. More...

By Katelyn Polantz and Christina Carrega, CNN

(CNN) Attorney General William Barr suggested on Wednesday that the calls for a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were the "greatest intrusion on civil liberties" in history "other than slavery." The comments came minutes after he slammed the hundreds of Justice Department prosecutors working beneath him, equating them to preschoolers, in a defense of his own politically tuned decision making in the Trump administration. Addressing a Constitution Day celebration hosted by Hillsdale College, the event's host asked Barr to explain the "constitutional hurdles for forbidding a church from meeting during Covid-19."

The question lead Barr into a four-minute response where he said state governors were using their executive powers to stifle citizens and businesses from going back to work. "You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history," Barr said as a round of applause came from the crowd. Covid-19 has taken a measurable toll on minorities, including Black people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent weeks, Barr has taken a much more aggressive stance defending Trump administration policies, including suggesting voting by mail is not safe, attacking the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and criticizing governors for their coronavirus response. More...

Attorney General William P. Barr was also said to have asked prosecutors to explore whether to bring charges against the mayor of Seattle for allowing a police-free protest zone.
By Katie Benner

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call. The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who described Mr. Barr’s comments on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The attorney general has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions. The directives are in keeping with Mr. Barr’s approach to prosecute crimes as aggressively as possible in cities where protests have given way to violence. But in suggesting possible prosecution of Ms. Durkan, a Democrat, Mr. Barr also took aim at an elected official whom President Trump has repeatedly attacked. More...

Dan Mangan

The White House requested that the U.S. Justice Department launch a last-minute, controversial effort to intervene in a lawsuit in which President Donald Trump is accused of defaming E. Jean Carroll, a writer who says Trump raped her years ago, Attorney General William Barr revealed Wednesday. Barr also said that American taxpayers — and not Trump personally — will be responsible for any monetary damages awarded Carroll, if she proves her claims against the president, and if a judge agrees to allow the Department of Justice to handle the case.

Barr defended the DOJ’s intervention in the case as proper and warranted by both the law and recent practice by other administrations. The DOJ on Tuesday filed a legal action seeking to transfer Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against Trump, which was filed in New York state court, to Manhattan federal court. The action also asks that the United States government replace Trump as the defendant in the case. More...

By Christina Carrega

(CNN) Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday defended the Justice Department's decision to represent President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault in the 1990s. Because Trump addressed and denied the accusations by E. Jean Carroll while serving as president, Barr said, the federal government is allowed to step in. The attorney general also said politics is to blame for the reaction to the Justice Department paying for Trump's defense and possibly killing the lawsuit. "This was a normal application of the law. The law is clear. It is done frequently. And the little tempest that's going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live," Barr said in a news conference in Chicago.

"Officials who are elected and answer press questions while they're in office, even if those questions relate to their personal activity, and could bear upon their personal fitness, is in fact in the course of federal employment, and can be therefore certified under the Westfall Act," Barr said. Carroll, a veteran columnist for Elle Magazine, said Trump falsely called her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault. "President Trump knows that I told the truth when I said that he had sexually assaulted me in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman. He also knows that he was lying when he said that he had never met me before and that I 'wasn't his type,'" Carroll said in a statement Tuesday. CNN legal analyst and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck said Barr's comments are misleading when it comes to the President. More...

“I not only agree with it,” Bill Barr told the Selma Times-Journal in January 1994 about the bill’s “three-strikes” provisions, “I called for it when I was attorney general.”
Scott Bixby

As the presidential campaign enters the post-Labor Day home stretch, the Trump campaign has invested heavily in swing-state advertising that labels former Vice President Joe Biden as both too weak on crime and too tough on crime. But every time the Trump campaign hits Biden for his authorship of the 1994 omnibus crime bill that vastly expanded funding for police and the construction of prisons—part of a concerted effort to weaken the former vice president’s standing among Black voters—they are omitting the fact that a key member of the cabinet derided the law as not tough enough. “Yes, more police,” Bill Barr, fresh off his first stint at the helm of the Justice Department under President George H.W. Bush, told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer in August 1993 when asked about the proposed legislation.

“But they also need prosecutors and prisons. If you put police on the street with no prison space behind them, all you’re going to do is spin that revolving door faster.” But Barr also praised parts of the 1994 crime bill, primarily the aspects that have now dogged Biden as progressive policies on law enforcement reform and criminal justice have become Democratic orthodoxy. Among the components of the crime bill that Barr supported included the so-called “three strikes” provision that required life sentences for those convicted of multiple crimes, the expansion of mandatory minimums, and an increase in prison capacity and decrease in granting of parole. “I not only agree with it,” Barr told the Selma Times-Journal in January 1994 about the bill’s “three-strikes” provisions, “I called for it when I was attorney general.” More...

By Matt Zapotosky

In his latest warning about the dangers of mass mail-in voting, Attorney General William P. Barr pointed to a case in Texas that he said highlighted the risk of fraud. “Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion,” Barr told CNN on Wednesday. “For example, we indicted someone in Texas, 1,700 ballots collected, he — from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to. Okay?” Federal prosecutors brought no such indictment. And while a Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr was referring to a local prosecution involving suspected mail-in voting fraud in a city council election, the assistant district attorney on that case said Barr’s description doesn’t match the facts.

“That’s not what happened at all,” said Andy Chatham, who is now in private practice. “Unfortunately, it speaks volumes to the credibility of Attorney General Barr when he submits half-truths and alternative facts as clear evidence of voter fraud without having so much as even contacted me or the district attorney’s office for an understanding of the events that actually occurred,” he added later. After being asked about Chatham’s account, Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in a statement: “Prior to his interview, the Attorney General was provided a memo prepared within the Department that contained an inaccurate summary about the case which he relied upon when using the case as an example.”

By James Walker

Attorney General William Barr was mocked for "playing dumb" after he claimed to be unaware of what state laws said on the legality of voting twice after President Donald Trump appeared to tell people to try and commit the crime. Appearing on CNN on Wednesday, Barr said the president was trying to make the point that election monitoring was not good enough to prevent people from voting at polling stations if they already cast their ballots by mail. But when he was pressed on the fact that such an action would be illegal, he said he was unaware of what state laws said about the legality of voting twice. "I don't know what the law in the particular state says, and when that vote becomes final," Barr told CNN. The network host Wolf Blitzer then asked: "Is there any state in which you can vote twice?"

"Maybe you can change your vote up to a particular time, I don't know what the law is," the attorney general replied. Barr went on to say questions about the president's suggestion people vote twice were "cheap talk" surrounding concerns about mail-in voting being prone to acts of fraud. The administration has regularly floated theories about mail-in voting leading to mass voter fraud without evidence. Reacting to Barr's remarks on Wednesday night, CNN host Chris Cuomo told viewers: "You're not allowed to vote twice. Like you need me to tell you that. Can you believe the attorney general of the United States is playing dumb about something like that? And why? Just to help his boy, because he's a trumpet. He's a pawn." He later added that Barr knew "exactly" what Trump was trying to tell his supporters yesterday, and said the administration had no proof to show mail-in voting was more susceptible to abuse and fraud.

A little-known office in the Justice Department has lost its long-time chief.
By Mike Levine

Current and former national security officials are raising concerns over Attorney General William Barr's recent decision to remove the head of a Justice Department office that helps ensure federal counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities are legal – and replace him with a political appointee with relatively limited experience. "It's very alarming," said Katrina Mulligan, who worked for the Obama administration in several national security roles and then, after President Donald Trump's inauguration, joined the Office of Law and Policy in the Justice Department's National Security Division.

For much of the past decade, that little-known office has been led by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brad Wiegmann, a 23-year career public servant, not a political appointee. But two weeks ago, Wiegmann, 54, was told he is being reassigned and replaced with a political appointee, according to a Justice Department spokesman and sources familiar with the matter. Mulligan and other sources told ABC News that the new head of the office is 36-year-old Kellen Dwyer, a cyber-crimes prosecutor who joined the federal government six years ago and made international headlines in November 2018 when he accidentally revealed that federal charges had been secretly filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Mulligan said that given Dwyer's limited time and experience handling national security matters, he is "a very odd" choice to replace Wiegmann, whom she described as "exceptional" at managing government bureaucracy and resolving "highly contentious matters across the government." The timing of the personnel change – coming just two months before the U.S. presidential election, and in the midst of a battle against domestic terrorism and foreign interference in the election – has worried current and former members of the national security community.

If and when the attorney general leaves, the Department of Justice faces a reckoning.
By VICTORIA BASSETTI and NORMAN EISEN

Victoria Bassetti is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Norman Eisen served as an impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and is author of “A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump.” Of President Donald Trump’s many career skills, perhaps the least appreciated is his lifelong and uncanny ability to sniff out lawyers who will serve his will. In slightly more than 500 days in office, Attorney General William Barr has pivoted from establishment D.C. attorney—sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States—into Trump’s family lawyer. The office of the attorney general is one of the oldest in our constitutional system, and the department is pledged “to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” But Barr, instead, displays a tendency to use all the department’s levers—and with a $32 billion budget there are a lot of them—not to protect “all Americans” but to protect the president, personally and politically.

Is Election Day set by law? “I’ve never looked into it,” Barr demurred in his testimony this week. Is it appropriate for the president to solicit or accept foreign assistance in an election? Barr’s first answer: “It depends what kind of assistance.” These are the answers of a man who has turned the once-proud Department of Justice into the president’s personal law firm. That is contrary to every tradition of the Justice Department, but consistent with how Trump has operated for his entire professional life. For decades, Trump found his family lawyers on the mean streets of New York and New Jersey, tapping the corrupt Roy Cohn and his successors, like Michael Cohen and Marc Kasowitz, to protect his interests. They quickly earned the title of “fixer” for a man whose personal and professional legal needs ultimately swelled to more than 4,000 lawsuits — bankruptcies, divorces, libel, unpaid debts, condo fees, wage disputes, and fraud, to name a few.

Above all, there was Cohn, who gave Trump his first taste of how an unscrupulous and savage lawyer could advance his cause. The two met in 1973 when Trump was looking for someone to help defend him and the family business from one of the nation’s highest profile charges of housing discrimination at the time. That case established a symbiotic MO between Trump and his lawyers—abuse of the law, and then covering it up—that continues to this day. Trump’s latter-day lawyers, Cohen and Kasowitz, both had their ethics problems: Cohen landed in prison for his role in covering up hush money payments in violation of campaign finance laws and for lying to Congress. Kasowitz faced allegations of violating legal ethics when he briefly represented Trump in D.C. but was best known for aggressive (some might say excessive) lawsuits against Trump’s adversaries. (UPDATE: Kasowitz emailed after the publication of this story to say: “I’m not corrupt, and I have never “fixed” anything. Not one of the politically charged, frivolous ethics complaints leveled at me as a result of my representation of President Trump resulted in any sanctions by any ethics body.”) Now Trump has Barr, who has become the president’s most prominent and prized fixer yet. read more...

Lawyers' complaint is shocking evidence of Barr's mendacity and a warning for us: He's America's most important public lawyer, and we can't trust him.
Paul Rosenzweig Opinion contributor

“How can you tell when a lawyer is lying?” the old joke begins. The answer: “Whenever his lips are moving.” The humor reflects the reality of how an average citizen views the legal profession. It's seen as mendacious and amoral. Of course, the reality is different. While not every lawyer can be an Atticus Finch defending the innocent, most are hardworking and honest. And then there is the attorney general, William Barr, who is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee under threat of subpoena. His lack of honesty and ethics is the basis for a complaint filed last week by 27 prominent lawyers, who are seeking to have Barr’s license to practice law revoked. All lawyers are bound to follow the ethical rules adopted by the State Bar Association where they are licensed to practice law. These rules are part of the profession’s effort to regulate itself and prevent bad lawyers from practicing law.

Undercutting Mueller, IGs and the FBI
According to the complaint, Attorney General Barr has violated the Washington, D.C., rules and engaged in unethical conduct. It says he has been dishonest and deceitful, and has also interfered with the administration of justice. Barr, of course, is not just any lawyer — he is the most important public lawyer in America. If anything, ethical violations by a lawyer holding a public office should be viewed as more egregious because the violations betray the public trust attached to the office.

The attorney general's tenure has been a disaster for the American people. The sooner he is gone from office, the better off the nation will be.
By Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21

As Attorney General William Barr testifies Tuesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee, he will no doubt face harsh questioning from his critics in the Democratic Party on a number of apparent transgressions. Such criticism is fair, particularly as Barr has spent the past two years on a mission to destroy the Mueller investigation to help President Donald Trump get re-elected. Indeed, ever since Barr took over as attorney general on Feb. 14, 2019, he has repeatedly demonstrated that his only allegiance is to Trump. Barr appears to be planning, in the closing weeks of the election, to release the results of an investigation he launched into the origins of the Mueller investigation and possibly bring criminal indictments — a move that reeks of political opportunism, is wildly inappropriate in its timing and is obviously intended to boost Trump's re-election by damaging the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

To help his president, Barr has shown no allegiance to his oath of office, the Justice Department, the nation, the rule of law or the American people he is supposed to serve. Barr has also repeatedly failed to comply with the rules and standards of the Justice Department he heads. These failures are the basis of seven complaints that I filed on behalf of Democracy 21 against Barr with the Justice Department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility. They charge Barr with improperly using his office to protect, promote and advance Trump's personal political interests. (They were filed on April 15, May 7 and Oct. 1, 2019, and Jan. 17, Feb. 27, June 11, and July 9, 2020.)

By Jeremy Herb and David Shortell, CNN

(CNN) Attorney General William Barr accuses congressional Democrats of seeking to discredit him because of his investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe, in a combative opening statement for Tuesday's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. In Barr's prepared remarks, which were provided to CNN by the Justice Department on Monday, the attorney general says he has acted independently of President Donald Trump in the decisions he's made in several criminal cases he's handled. "Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus 'Russiagate' scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President's factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today," Barr says in his written remarks.

Barr's testimony on Tuesday is his first before the House Judiciary Committee, where Democrats have accused him of committing numerous abuses. It comes after he did not appear at a hearing before the panel last year and a March date was postponed. Democrats plan to push Barr on his intervention into the prosecutions of two Trump allies, his move last month to oust a prominent and powerful US attorney, and the Justice Department's use of force against protesters to Barr's threats to state and local officials over their handling of coronavirus. A Democratic committee counsel told reporters Monday that Democratic lawmakers will seek to paint Barr as repeatedly overruling career staff to serve the President's interests first.

Emma Newburger

Attorney General William Barr spoke with President Donald Trump about Roger Stone and recommended against granting him clemency, an administration official told NBC News. Other White House officials were also opposed to Trump’s decision due to fears of political blowback, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, according to a person familiar with the matter. Another person familiar with the matter told NBC that advisors told the president that granting Stone clemency “was a big mistake.” The official also said that the Department of Justice had nothing to do with the president’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence on seven felony crimes, which occurred only four days before the 67-year-old Republican operative was set to start his 40 months in federal prison. Barr had previously said that Stone’s prosecution was “righteous” and the sentence was fair, and defended his decision to oppose a stricter sentence for Stone.

By Tobias Hoonhout

Attorney General William Barr revealed Wednesday that he believes the country has “a widespread phenomenon” of African American men being unduly treated poorly by the police, adding that “it’s something we have to address.” “I do think it is a widespread phenomenon that African American males, in particular, are treated with extra suspicion and maybe not given the benefit of the doubt,” Barr explained to ABC News correspondent Pierre Thomas. “I think it is wrong if people are not respected appropriately and given their due,” he added, “and I think it’s something we have to address.” Barr said that George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis had affected his outlook on the situation. “Before the George Floyd incident I thought we were in a good place,” he stated. “I think that this episode in Minneapolis showed that we still have some work to do in addressing the distrust that exists in the African American community toward law enforcement.” Studies have found that police are more likely to use non-lethal force when a suspect is African American or Hispanic compared to when a suspect is white, but that police are no more likely to shoot an unarmed suspect if that person is a person of color. Barr revealed that the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation into the narcotics unit of the Springfield, Mass., police found “a department that was engaged in a pattern and practice of using excessive force.”

By Kristine Phillips - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr has created a task force to investigate anti-government extremists that officials said were responsible for instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd. Barr, in a memo Friday, said there is evidence that extremists belonging to the far-right "boogaloo" movement and those who identify as antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist group, are responsible for some of the violence that marred protests across the country. Barr also said some of the extremists may have had some support from foreign entities, although he did not offer evidence. "Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, they are united in their opposition to the core constitutional values of a democratic society governed by law," Barr said.

The attorney general's comments in a new interview echoed those of the president who nominated him.
By Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr on Thursday raised concerns that expanding mail-in voting could lead to widespread fraud — but admitted he had no evidence to support his claims. In an interview with NPR, Barr was asked if he believes an election conducted mainly by mail can be secure. "Personally, no. I mean, we just mailed out checks under this program. And what is it? I heard something like 20 percent or something were misdirected," Barr said, referring to stimulus checks sent out by the federal government as part of a coronavirus relief package. Barr said that he thinks the same thing can happen with mail-in ballots.

NO HOLDS BARRED

The attorney general insists, meanwhile, that it’s nothing but a “media narrative” to suggest he’s acting in the president’s personal interests.
By Blake Montgomery

The same day that Attorney General William Barr insisted there is “no pattern” of him working to advance the personal interests of President Donald Trump, several sources cited by The New York Times said one of his first moves after being sworn into office in early 2019 was trying to find ways to undermine the conviction of longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen. Barr had reportedly repeatedly questioned prosecutors over the charges against Cohen, who pleaded guilty in August 2018 to financial crimes that included hush-money payments to women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. He went so far as to instruct Justice Department officials to draft a legal memo casting doubt on the legitimacy of Cohen’s conviction, according to sources cited by the Times, but they refused to do so. Meanwhile, in an NPR interview published Thursday, Barr scoffed at the notion he has been promoting Trump’s agenda at the expense of the rule of law, calling it a “media narrative” and saying there is “no such pattern.” He went on the defensive in the interview multiple times. Barr has made several controversial interventions into cases involving President Donald Trump’s associates. In early May, he chose to drop the Justice Department’s case against Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a decision that elicited blistering criticism, as Flynn had already pleaded guilty. Though Michael Flynn was the president’s National Security Adviser, Barr denied any political pressure to drop the charges against him: “I don't know whether I would refer to him as a friend of any administration,” he said. And though Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI, Barr still cast the charges against the retired general as ludicrous: “There was a lot of hinky stuff in the Flynn case. Everyone knew that. Everyone was wondering why was this case ever brought?”

By Kara Scannell, Evan Perez and Jeremy Herb, CNN

Washington (CNN) Over Memorial Day weekend, Attorney General William Barr removed a low-profile US attorney in Texas following the public airing of a dispute over an investigation into Walmart -- a move that didn't draw the same attention as the firing of the high-profile US attorney in Manhattan, but is now raising new questions about political interference inside the Justice Department. Joseph Brown, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Texas and a Trump appointee, was pushed out after ProPublica published a nearly 7,000-word story headlined "Walmart was almost charged criminally over opioids. Trump appointees killed the indictment," which described an internal battle over a Texas prosecutor's efforts to bring criminal charges against Walmart, according to people familiar with the matter. Walmart has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Brown quietly resigned, but now the forced exit from last month is getting renewed attention as the latest move that has stoked concerns about the politicization of the Justice Department under Barr. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating the matter, sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN, and has lined up a witness who filed a whistleblower complaint with the Justice Department inspector general to testify about the handling of the Walmart investigation.

Propublica

Even as company pharmacists protested, Walmart kept filling suspicious prescriptions, stoking the country’s opioid epidemic. A Republican U.S. Attorney in Texas thought the evidence was damning. Trump’s political appointees? Not so much. On a Tuesday just before Halloween in 2018, a group of federal prosecutors and agents from Texas arrived in Washington. For almost two years, they’d been investigating the opioid dispensing practices of Walmart, the largest company in the world. They had amassed what they viewed as highly damning evidence only to face a major obstacle: top Trump appointees at the Department of Justice. The prosecution team had come to Washington to try to save its case. Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, led the group, which included Heather Rattan, an over-20-year veteran of the office who had spent much of her career prosecuting members of drug cartels. They first went to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s headquarters to meet the acting administrator, Uttam Dhillon. There Rattan laid out the evidence. Opioids dispensed by Walmart pharmacies in Texas had killed customers who had overdosed. The pharmacists who dispensed those opioids had told the company they didn’t want to fill the prescriptions because they were coming from doctors who were running pill mills. They pleaded for help and guidance from Walmart’s corporate office.

By Kristine Phillips - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Still reeling from a highly public clash that led to the firing of one of its most prominent prosecutors, the Justice Department again finds itself under a glaring spotlight as two of its employees told Congress Wednesday that the agency's leadership abused its power at the behest of President Donald Trump. Aaron Zelinsky, one of the attorneys who prosecuted Roger Stone, said that the Justice Department gave the GOP operative "unprecedentedly favorable treatment" and pressured prosecutors to "cut Stone a break" by recommending a lenient sentence because he is an ally of the president, according to his prepared statement. He and the other prosecutors were told to go along, Zelinsky said, or they could be fired. John Elias, an attorney in the department's Antitrust Division, said that the agency's political appointees pursued unwarranted investigations over the objections of career employees. One investigation, Elias said, was launched after a Trump tweet.

CBS Evening News

A federal prosecutor who helped put President Trump's ally Roger Stone behind bars plans to tell a congressional committee on Wednesday that he faced pressure from "the highest levels" of the Justice Department to go easy on Stone. Nancy Cordes has the details.

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

(CNN) Law professors and faculty from George Washington University Law School, Attorney General William Barr's alma mater, said in a letter Tuesday he has "failed to fulfill his oath of office to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States.'" The rebuke comes after continued fallout over the departure of Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor ousted over the weekend by the Trump administration, and is the latest in a chorus of criticism over Barr's actions as attorney general. Barr received his Juris Doctor degree from the law school in 1977 and while serving as attorney general under then-President George H.W. Bush he received an honorary degree from the university in 1992. In a bi-partisan statement signed by 65 faculty and professors from the law school, the group wrote that Barr's actions as attorney general "have undermined the rule of law, breached constitutional norms, and damaged the integrity and traditional independence of his office and of the Department of Justice." Signatories to the letter include president and CEO of the National Bar Association Alfreda Robinson and interim dean of the school Christopher Alan Bracey. "[Barr] obfuscated and misled the American public about the results of the Mueller investigation. He wrongfully interfered in the day-to-day activities of career prosecutors, and continues to do so, bending the criminal justice system to benefit the President's friends and target those perceived to be his enemies," the letter read.

By Carrie Johnson

A current Justice Department prosecutor is planning to tell lawmakers on Wednesday that in his many years in the government, "I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making ... with one exception: United States v Roger Stone," according to a copy of his prepared testimony. Aaron Zelinsky, who has worked at Justice since 2014, is scheduled to testify at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday as one of two "whistleblowers" set to describe politicization at the Justice Department, said Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D–NY. In his written statement, Zelinsky said he heard that Stone received different treatment "because of his relationship to the president." Zelinsky said the person in charge of the U.S. Attorney's office at the time was "receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break." And, he said: "I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was 'afraid of the president.'" Zelinsky described "significant pressure ... to water down and in some cases outright distort the events that transpired in [Stone's] trial and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction." Eventually, higher-ups in the office overrode the original recommendation about how stiffly to punish Stone and filed a new memo "at odds with the record and contrary to Department of Justice policy." Zelinsky ultimately withdrew from the case, along with three others, after the department refused to heed their objections that "such political favoritism was wrong and contrary to legal ethics and department policy." A judge eventually sentenced Stone to serve 40 months in prison. He's due to report there next week. Attorney General Bill Barr said at the time of Stone's sentencing that he'd acted on his own to get involved with the submission of a second memo asking the judge in the case to impose a lighter sentence than contemplated in the first one.

By Paul Waldman Opinion writer

That Attorney General William P. Barr has corrupted the Justice Department so that it is singularly devoted to the president’s personal political interest is barely in question anymore. But with the election less than five months away and Barr undoubtedly planning further interventions to secure President Trump’s victory, he may have less power to save Trump than it appears — or maybe none at all. That’s not only because Barr has discredited himself by acting more like an employee of Trump’s reelection campaign than the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. It’s also because his efforts are focused on creating perceptions that will help Trump, at a moment when — if you can believe it — reality actually does matter. Indeed, the big surprise of the moment may be that reality is now all that matters. Barr did an interview with Fox News this weekend, in which he echoed some of the president’s preposterous claims (mail voting is fraudulent!) and previewed coming revelations from the farcical investigation he ordered to discredit the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. While it may seem like an inconsequential sideshow to much more important issues, the very fact that we think about it as relatively unimportant is revealing.

By Travis Gettys

Attorney General William Barr appears to be obstructing justice, according to one legal expert, and must be investigated and possibly impeached. The attorney general gave conflicting statements over the weekend about the ouster of Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and attorney and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa called for Barr’s removal in a new column for The Daily Beast. “Barr tried to bamboozle the country (and, apparently, bully Berman himself) into believing that Berman had resigned his post,” Rangappa wrote. “Berman’s day-long standoff with Barr, in which he refused to resign, included a public letter that was an S.O.S. to anyone paying attention, as he assured the public that the ‘office’s important cases would continue unimpeded’ — suggesting that Barr was attempting to obstruct justice by removing him, which Barr ultimately succeeded in doing.” Barr has authority over any Justice Department investigation of his own conduct, and Rangappa argued that leaves only one option to determine why the attorney general removed Berman.

By Ariana Freeman

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday called for an investigation into Attorney General William Barr's decision to remove the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Barr initially said Geoffrey Berman was stepping down, but Berman said he had not resigned, leading Barr to say that President Trump had fired him. "I am calling for a three-pronged investigation that involves three entities: First, the Judiciary Committee, second, the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ and third, the Inspector General's Office at DOJ," Schumer said at his weekly press conference at his midtown Manhattan office. Schumer said the "real unanswered question" is "why did the president and Mr. Barr do it?" Schumer pointed to Barr not giving a reason, and asked if it could be related to any of the Southern District of New York's investigations.

By Kevin Johnson - USA TODAY

In Attorney General William Barr’s most recent public assessment, Geoffrey Berman was doing an exemplary job as Manhattan’s chief federal prosecutor. There was talk of naming him to another weighty position in the Trump administration, including chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission or chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Division in Washington. “With tenacity and savvy, Geoff has done an excellent job leading one of our nation’s most significant U.S. Attorney’s Offices,” Barr said late Friday night, adding that the prosecutor had achieved “many successes on consequential civil and criminal matters.” The only problem: Berman, whose office has prosecuted and investigated several of President Donald Trump’s allies, had no interest in leaving to make way for the president’s favored replacement – current SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, whose resume is absent any previous experience as a prosecutor. Less than 48 hours after a battle for control of the Justice Department’s most prestigious office ended with Trump ordering Berman’s dismissal, the urgency of the administration’s action has not been fully explained. By some accounts, Clayton had expressed interest in the Manhattan post to both Barr and Trump while preparing to leave the SEC. Others have suggested that the abrupt move, initially revealed on another late Friday night, mimicked the recent actions to remove a number of government watchdogs cast as disloyal or a threat to the administration.

By Lloyd Green

The attorney general lied about the US attorney from New York, had to fire him, and landed the president with a big problem. Maybe Bill Barr isn’t that smart. With less than 150 days to the election, Roy Cohn 2.0 emerged from his scrum with Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the southern district of New York (SDNY), looking the worse for wear. In less than 24 hours, Barr placed Donald Trump in more jeopardy than he was when their brawl with Berman began late on Friday night. Instead of replacing Berman in the near term with a Trump loyalist, the US attorney for New Jersey, and in the long haul with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Audrey Strauss, a career prosecutor, will lead the “sovereign” district until a Trump nominee clears the Senate. The SDNY, remember, has investigated and prosecuted close allies of the president. For Trump and his attorney general, replacing Berman with Strauss is like jumping from frying pan to fire. If the dynamic duo had a difficult time taming Berman, a Trump contributor and a former partner of Rudy Giuliani, reining in Strauss will prove even tougher.

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) "Where's My Roy Cohn?" was a very good documentary about the notorious lawyer and fixer, including lessons -- never apologize and constantly attack -- he taught to a young client named Donald Trump. What sets "Bully. Coward. Victim. The Story of Roy Cohn" apart is the personal connection for director Ivy Meeropol, the granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The Rosenbergs were executed for espionage on June 19, 1953, cementing Cohn's image as an anti-Communist crusader, and providing the springboard to his work as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy. Meeropol chronicled the Rosenbergs' part of the story in a 2004 documentary, "Heir to an Execution." Interviewing her father, Michael Meeropol (who took the name of the family that adopted him and his younger brother), the director has created a film that essentially alternates between its ostensible subject, Cohn, and those victimized by his actions. Cohn is described by journalist Peter Manso as being "without conscience," and by more than interviewee as "evil." He was also a mass of contradictions, which has made him a continuing source of fascination: a gay man who persecuted gays (McCarthy calls them "easy prey to the blackmailer") and courted top conservatives espousing "traditional values" while frequenting Studio 54 and passing around candy dishes filled with cocaine. Meeropol draws upon a trove of audiotapes from Manso's interviews with Cohn for Playboy, coupling those with TV clips that essentially allow Cohn to tell his own story. He explains, for example, his tactic of using "the fear of publicity" to induce settlements, having cultivated and manipulated journalists along with political power brokers and mob figures. - William Barr is Trump's new Roy Cohn. William Barr is not doing his job; his oath of office is to America not to Donald J. Trump.

MSNBC

Former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt joins MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber to discuss Attorney General Bill Barr’s “appalling” actions. Schmidt argues “The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, not the president's personal attorney” adding Barr “has acted in a way that is contrary to every other attorney general's understanding of their duties in that office.” Schmidt slams AG Barr for acting “like Donald Trump's Roy Cohn." - William Barr is Trump's new Roy Cohn. William Barr is not doing his job; his oath of office is to America not to Donald J. Trump.

THE NEW ABNORMAL

In Ep. 16 of The New Abnormal, former DOJ prosecutor Glenn Kirschner takes down Bill Barr. Plus, Rick and Molly chat election predictions, Confederate flag truthers and more.
The Daily Beast

Attorney General Bill Barr was in on Trump’s scheme to bribe and lean on Ukraine’s president. He let his boss’ criminal cronies off the hook. But the worst part, former DOJ prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says, was Barr’s crackdown in Lafayette Square on people just expressing their First Amendment rights. And if Barr isn’t under criminal investigation in 2021 for that, he tells Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast, then “shame on us.” It’s all part of a jam-packed episode of The New Abnormal in which Kirschner crucifies the AG and the Trump administration: “I would say under Donald Trump—first to Jeff Sessions, then to Matt Whitaker, and then to Bill Barr—it has gone from bad to worse to criminal.” Then, Rachel Bitecofer of the Niskansen Center for Public Policy, joined Molly and Rick to present her forecast for this November—and she has some promising news for Democrats.


Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) filed an amicus brief on behalf of all Democratic Members of the Committee in the case of United States v. Michael Flynn in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Following the Department of Justice’s motion to dismiss the government’s criminal charges against Michael Flynn, which set off numerous protests within the Department and across the legal community, the Committee’s filing argues that the Department’s motion represents the most overt demonstration of the rule of law being corroded for political purposes—in this case, to serve the demands of President Trump. Today’s filing is part of a series of actions Chairman Nadler announced last week to counter Attorney General William Barr's continued defiance of Congress and politicization of the Department of Justice.

Chairman Nadler released the following statement on the filing:

“Few things are more corrosive to the rule of law—and the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system—than the injection of partisanship, favoritism, or corruption into prosecutorial decisions. In this case, the impropriety is barely concealed. Attorney General Barr has stonewalled congressional oversight at every turn, depriving the House Judiciary Committee of any opportunity to question him about his mischaracterization of the Mueller Report, his role in the sentencing of Roger Stone, or the policies he has put in place to facilitate the improper politicization of prosecutorial decision making. Now, he seeks to stonewall the judicial branch as well, and that must not be tolerated. Today’s filing makes this argument in the starkest terms, and lays out exactly what is at stake if the Department of Justice, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States is allowed to pervert justice for their own political purposes. ” A PDF of the amicus brief is available here.

By David Shortell, CNN

(CNN) More than 1,250 former Justice Department employees have asked the agency's internal watchdog to investigate Attorney General William Barr for his role in the forcible clearing of peaceful protesters outside the White House earlier this month ahead of a staged photo opportunity by the President. In a letter released Wednesday, the former officials, who served in career and politically appointed positions under Democratic and Republican leadership, said they were "disturbed" by the episode and that Barr may have trampled protesters' constitutional rights when he ordered the move. They asked Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to review the attorney general's involvement. "If the Attorney General or any other DOJ employee has directly participated in actions that have deprived Americans of their constitutional rights or that physically injured Americans lawfully exercising their rights, that would be misconduct of the utmost seriousness, the details of which must be shared with the American people," the former officials wrote. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, 1,264 former Justice Department employees had signed their names to the letter. Spokeswomen for Barr and Horowitz declined to comment to CNN on the letter.

Claims made by AG Barr's Justice Department "are not credible," the retired judge wrote, adding, "Everything about this is irregular.".
By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The retired judge appointed to act as a friend of the court in the Michael Flynn case strongly urged the court Wednesday not to let the Justice Department abandon the prosecution. In a scorching 83-page submission, John Gleeson said the government's move to drop the case was "riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact," which were contradicted by the positions it has taken in other false statement cases and by its own previous court filings about Flynn's conduct as well as his decisions to plead guilty twice. "Even recognizing that the Government is entitled to deference in assessing the strength of its case, these claims are not credible," the retired judge wrote. "Indeed, they are preposterous. For starters — and most unusually — they are directly and decisively disproven by the Government's own briefs filed just months ago in this very proceeding." Gleeson said judges must ordinarily defer to the wishes of the Justice Department about whether to pursue a prosecution, but not when the motives of the government are suspect. In Flynn's case, the government's move to dismiss the case "is based solely on the fact that Flynn is an ally of President Trump."

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) The Justice Department's handling of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn's case is a "gross abuse of prosecutorial power," a court-appointed attorney and former judge wrote in a searing 82-page analysis on Wednesday. The court-appointed lawyer John Gleeson also argued that Flynn should be sentenced for lying, including for perjuring himself in court for admitting his crimes then disavowing them. Gleeson, looking at Flynn's full case record, reasoned that the Justice Department's recent support of Flynn is so politically advantageous to President Donald Trump and atypical for prosecutors, it's undermined the public's trust in the rule of law. "The facts surrounding the filing of the Government's motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump," Gleeson wrote to US District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Wednesday. The Justice Department "abdicated that responsibility" to prosecute defendants without fear or favor, Gleeson wrote, by "attempting to provide special treatment to a favored friend and political ally of the President of the United States," capturing what many critics of Attorney General William Barr and Trump, especially in the legal community, have alleged. "It has treated the case like no other, and in doing so has undermined the public's confidence in the rule of law," he wrote.

Unusual territory
Gleeson made the argument on Wednesday after Sullivan requested his analysis on Flynn's statements under oath, and asked him to argue against the Justice Department's request to drop Flynn's case. Gleeson's filing highlights the unusual territory the Flynn court case has waded into and the legal questions Sullivan is now weighing. Flynn is also trying to short-circuit Sullivan's consideration of the case, prompting the DC Circuit Court of Appeals to also consider the questions of whether Gleeson can weigh in on the case and whether the case must be dismissed immediately. Flynn pleaded guilty before two federal judges to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in late 2016, when he asked Russia not to retaliate for Obama administration sanctions for election interference and to split from the Obama administration on an upcoming UN vote on Israel. He cooperated for a year in interviews with the special counsel's office and a federal grand jury about his interactions with Russia and about his work in 2016 lobbying for Turkey, before renouncing his admissions. Barr then decided last month to drop Flynn's charge. The Justice Department has argued Flynn's lies weren't "material" to an investigation, because Flynn should never have been under investigation for his interactions with Russian officials.

By Lori Robertson

The national semantics exercise over “pepper balls” and “tear gas” has continued. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Attorney General William Barr was asked if it was appropriate for the U.S. Park Police “to use smoke bombs, tear gas, pepper balls, projectiles at what appeared to be peaceful protesters” outside the White House on June 1. Barr objected to the description of “pepper spray” as a “chemical irritant,” saying, “It’s not chemical.” But Barr is contradicted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Justice, as Dr. Ranit Mishori, senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights and a Georgetown University professor of family medicine, told us. “Barr should know better and perhaps brush up on his high school chemistry lessons,” Mishori said. “Pepper spray is a chemical irritant. Period. The CDC classifies it as a chemical irritant, as does his own Department of Justice.” On its website, the CDC says pepper spray is a “riot control agent,” and such agents “(sometimes referred to as ‘tear gas’) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” Mishori referred us to a 2009 DOJ Office of Inspector General report on “less-lethal weapons” that describes pepper spray, and the brand name PepperBall system, as “chemical agents.” (It’s worth noting the report also lists “CS Gas (Tear Gas)” in that category.) As we’ve written, President Donald Trump objected to media descriptions of the use of “tear gas” to disperse protesters near the White House before the president walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photos with a Bible. The U.S. Park Police acting chief said in a statement, “No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners” that night, but said “smoke canisters and pepper balls” were used. Pepper balls contain a pepper spray-like irritant. We found some sources — including the Scientific American — consider pepper spray a type of tear gas, while others say both chemicals have the same effect on people.

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN

Washington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr said Monday that the US Secret Service recommended moving President Donald Trump to the underground White House bunker during late May protests, contradicting the President's earlier assertion that his visit to the bunker was for "inspection." Barr told Fox News that the June 1 action to expand the perimeter around the White House and Lafayette Square was a reaction "to three days of extremely violent demonstrations right across from the White House -- a lot of injuries to police officers, arson." "Things were so bad that the Secret Service recommended that the President go down to the bunker," Barr said, referencing protests on May 29. "We can't have that in our country. And so the decision was made. We had to move the perimeter one block. And that was what we were doing (on June 1)." Last week, Trump sought to explain his time in the bunker during clashes outside the residence on May 29 as an "inspection," rather than a retreat for his own safety, telling Fox News Radio's Brian Kilmeade he was only in the safe room for a "tiny" amount of time. "I went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny little short period of time, and it was much more for an inspection, there was no problem during the day," Trump said. "They said it would be a good time to go down and take a look because maybe sometime you're going to need it," Trump added. "I looked at it. It was during the day. It was not a problem ... There was never a problem." Trump also told Kilmeade he'd been to the bunker before, what he said was "two and a half times," also to get a sense of the space rather than to protect himself from harm. But last week, multiple people familiar with the matter described a different scenario to CNN, saying Trump was rushed to the bunker for nearly an hour amid intense protests on the evening of May 29.

Attorney General Barr is too dangerous to democracy and to the well-being of Americans to be left in place. He must be removed from office.
By Noah Bookbinder and Donald K. Sherman - Opinion contributors

It’s been evident since he assumed the role of attorney general that William Barr was more concerned with advancing the political interests of President Donald Trump than with serving the cause of justice in America. But when Barr this week ordered the dispersal of peaceful protesters gathered in opposition to racial injustice, who were hit with pepper balls and rubber bullets, in order to make way for the president’s appalling photo op, it became undeniable that he presents a clear and present danger. An attorney general who undermines an independent Department of Justice is dangerous to our democracy, but under the direction of a corrupt president who coddles white supremacists and befriends dictators, Barr’s conduct threatens the lives and safety of American citizens. We are in the midst of a much needed reckoning about the government's role in practicing and enabling violence against black and brown people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others and the systemic racism that allows perpetrators to escape accountability. Barr has repeatedly demonstrated that he is unfit to lead any national effort to bring about government accountability, or even our nation’s criminal prosecutions. Now, his role in attacking protesters peacefully opposing state-sanctioned racism warrants a more urgent response.

Barr now has "federal troops" on the street in D.C. with no badges or insignia. There's a word for that
By Heather Digby Parton

Since becoming Donald Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr has given several speeches to police organizations. This is not unusual for someone in his position, but Barr's comments have often been controversial. Last December he made the outrageous comment that "communities" have to "start showing more than they do the respect and support that law enforcement deserves and if communities don't give that respect, they might find themselves without the protection they need." It was bad enough that it hit the evening news: Barr's overtly partisan behavior as attorney general has been well documented. He is the president's No. 1 henchman, and the most openly political AG in American history. His far-right views on religion and morality are also well-known. But despite his speeches like the one above, until this week I don't think it was well understood just how fully authoritarian Barr's worldview really is. He appears to believe that the title "attorney general" is an actual military designation that gives him the authority to command troops on the streets of the United States. It isn't. (It's actually a very old term in common law, reflecting the idea that someone may hold a "general power of attorney" to represent the state.) In a call with state governors on Monday, when Trump demanded they "dominate" their citizens and put protesters in jail for 10 years, one of his many threats was that he would unleash Barr and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Later that day Milley was seen wandering around outside the White House in battle fatigues as if he were about to launch an attack on Fallujah, but he and the rest of the military brass have since balked at Trump's stated desire to send in active-duty troops to "dominate" American cities.

CNN

Attorney General Bill Barr says that forcibly dispersing a crowd of protesters near the White House had nothing to do with President Donald Trump photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church. CNN's Anderson Cooper says the timeline of events shows otherwise.

The motley assortment of police currently occupying Washington, D.C., is a window into the vast, complicated, obscure world of federal law enforcement.
By GARRETT M. GRAFF

Few sights from the nation’s protests in recent days have seemed more dystopian than the appearance of rows of heavily-armed riot police around Washington in drab military-style uniforms with no insignia, identifying emblems or name badges. Many of the apparently federal agents have refused to identify which agency they work for. “Tell us who you are, identify yourselves!” protesters demanded, as they stared down the helmeted, sunglass-wearing mostly white men outside the White House. Eagle-eyed protesters have identified some of them as belonging to Bureau of Prisons’ riot police units from Texas, but others remain a mystery. The images of such military-style men in America’s capital are disconcerting, in part, because absent identifying signs of actual authority the rows of federal officers appear all-but indistinguishable from the open-carrying, white militia members cosplaying as survivalists who have gathered in other recent protests against pandemic stay-at-home orders. Some protesters have compared the anonymous armed officers to Russia’s “Little Green Men,” the soldiers-dressed-up-as-civilians who invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday demanding that federal officers identify themselves and their agency. To understand the police forces ringing Trump and the White House it helps to understand the dense and not-entirely-sensical thicket of agencies that make up the nation’s civilian federal law enforcement. With little public attention, notice and amid historically lax oversight, those ranks have surged since 9/11—growing by roughly 2,500 officers annually every year since 2000. To put it another way: Every year since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government has added to its policing ranks a force larger than the entire Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nearly all of these agencies are headquartered in and around the capital, making it easy for Attorney General William Barr to enlist them as part of his vast effort to “flood the zone” in D.C. this week with what amounts to a federal army of occupation, overseen from the FBI Washington area command post in Chinatown. Battalions of agents were mustered in the lobby of Customs and Border Protection’s D.C. headquarters—what in normal times is the path to a food court for federal workers. The Drug Enforcement Administration has been given special powers to enable it to surveil protesters. It is the heaviest show of force in the nation’s capital since the protests and riots of the Vietnam War.

The Trump administration has deployed phalanxes of officers in riot gear and no identifiable markings to police demonstrations in the capital. Democrats want to know who they are.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s aggressive deployment of officers donning riot gear with no identifiable markings has increased tensions with protesters, raised the specter of a “secret police” force and prompted Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand that President Trump identify the federal forces he has put on the streets of the capital. Demonstrators in downtown Washington say federal officers in generic riot gear have refused to identify themselves or display identifying features, and the deployment of federal law enforcement is supposed to get even larger this weekend. Congressional Democrats say the administration’s use of ambiguous tactical teams is infringing on the rights of the protesters. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, introduced legislation mandating that law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces identify themselves and their agency. In a letter to Mr. Trump on Thursday, Ms. Pelosi asked for details identifying the law enforcement and military agencies that had been deployed across the capital to police the protests. “The practice of officers operating with full anonymity undermines accountability, ignites government distrust and suspicion, and is counter to the principle of procedural justice and legitimacy during this precarious moment in our nation’s history,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. The question over the federal law enforcement practices comes as Attorney General William P. Barr has flooded Washington with agents from the F.B.I., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Prisons — an agency that House Democrats said in a letter to Mr. Barr was responsible for sending the unidentifiable officers. Mr. Barr on Wednesday night further empowered those teams from the Bureau of Prisons with the authority to make arrests at the demonstrations. Even as federal troops on Thursday retreated from the area in front of Lafayette Square, which is controlled by the federal government, and Mr. Barr said he could reduce the number of security checkpoints after “a sharp reduction in violent episodes,” officials familiar with the deployment said an even larger federal presence and aggressive crackdown was expected this weekend when thousands of additional protesters were anticipated to march on the nation’s capital. “The United States would normally condemn this tactic if used by dictators of other countries, and its use here directly threatens our democracy,” Mr. Murphy said. “Americans have a right to know who is patrolling their streets, and to have recourse if their massive power is misused.”

By Brian Naylor

U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Thursday defended the decision to order that protesters be driven back from a park near the White House this week and said extremist groups were involved in sometimes violent demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. Floyd died on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him down at the neck for nearly nine minutes, prompting massive protests across the country denouncing racial inequality and police brutality. The now-fired officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder. Speaking at a news conference Thursday with other law enforcement officials, Barr said that it is "undeniable that many African Americans lack confidence in our American criminal justice system," adding, "This must change." He called Thursday a "day of mourning," referring to Floyd's memorial service. Of video showing the police officers' conduct when arresting Floyd, Barr said, "It is impossible for any normal human being not to be struck to the heart with horror."  - Barr use the army on unarmed peaceful protesters, which is against, their 1st amendment rights.

White House acknowledges attorney general ordered law enforcement to expand perimeter around White House before president's photo op at church, but says it's unrelated
By Griffin Connolly

House Democrats are launching an all-out offensive against Attorney General William Barr for his “continued defiance of Congress” and “improper politicization of the Department of Justice,” the Judiciary Committee announced in a release on Tuesday. The panel’s announcement comes as the Trump administration confirmed the attorney general personally ordered law enforcement to expand the perimeter around the White House either late Sunday or early Monday, ahead of Donald Trump’s walk to a photo op at nearby St John’s Episcopal Church. Administration officials have insisted that Mr Barr’s order to expand the perimeter had no connection to Mr Trump’s photo op, where he strolled from the White House across Lafayette Square to the church and held up a bible in his right hand as photojournalists snapped pictures and TV crews shot video. Shortly before Mr Trump emerged from the White House for his walk to the church on Tuesday, horse-mounted law enforcement personnel used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades to disperse a crowd that had been peacefully protesting there for hours. Mr Barr has also continued to deploy more law enforcement personnel across the country to root out violent agitators at protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died last week as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck and back for several minutes even as Mr Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, whose committee drafted and ratified impeachment articles against Mr Trump last year, is proposing legislation to slash the budget of Mr Barr’s personal office at the DOJ by $50m, he announced on Tuesday. Mr Nadler is also scheduling multiple hearings in the coming weeks with DOJ whistle-blowers and former department officials, the panel announced. “These individuals are prepared to describe specific incidents of misconduct, as well as the unprecedented politicization of the Department of Justice under President Trump and Attorney General Barr,” the committee wrote in its press release.

By Evan Perez and David Shortell, CNN

Washington (CNN) Attorney General William Barr on Monday evening ordered authorities to clear a crowd of protesters that had gathered near the White House, according to a Justice Department official, minutes ahead of President Donald Trump's televised address from the Rose Garden. Barr and other top officials from agencies responsible for securing the White House had previously planned to secure a wider perimeter around Lafayette Square, a federally owned green space just north of the building, in response to fires and destruction caused by protestors on Sunday night. That plan, developed earlier Monday, would have cleared the area later used for the President's walk to the nearby St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo-op by 4 p.m. ET, the official said. But it never happened. When Barr arrived at Lafayette Square just after 6 p.m. in a scene that was captured on news cameras and elicited heckles from the large, peaceful crowd, the attorney general saw that the area had not been emptied, and told police to clear the area, the official said. If federal law enforcement was met with resistance by the protesters, crowd control measures should be implemented, Barr had said, according to the official. - Attorney General Barr violated the 1st amendment’s rights of peaceful protestor with tear gas, flash bang grenades and tear gas so Bunker Boy AKA Don the Con could have a phot op.

By Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) Almost immediately after special counsel Robert Mueller closed his investigation last year, Attorney General William Barr was huddling with the prosecutor he assigned to re-examine the Russia probe -- in a series of meetings that haven't been previously known and appear to highlight Barr's drive to rewrite the legacy of the Mueller investigation. Barr met at least six times with US Attorney John "Bull" Durham over a 10-week period in spring 2019, including once during the critical days after Mueller submitted his report to the Department of Justice and before it was released to the public, according to Justice Department records released to the transparency group American Oversight and shared with CNN this week. American Oversight sued the Justice Department in August for records of Durham-Barr communications and meetings. The records could begin to fill in gaps about the start of Durham's review. Barr has been clear about his skepticism of the Russia investigation since even before he became attorney general, yet how the Durham probe began, how closely Barr has directed Durham's work and the full sweep of Durham's investigation isn't known. While it's unclear how routinely Barr was meeting with other prosecutors in Durham's position at the end of the Mueller investigation, the newly discovered details of his meetings with Durham illuminate how the two men communicated at a crucial time. The newly released records show Barr moved quickly after becoming attorney general in February 2019 to get face time with Durham.

The attorney general said that an investigation into the Russia inquiry was focusing on others, not the former president.
By Katie Benner and Adam Goldman

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed President Trump’s attempts to rebrand the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by former President Barack Obama, saying on Monday that he expected no charges against either Mr. Obama or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a result of an investigation into how their administration handled Russian election interference. “As long as I’m attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends,” Mr. Barr said during a news conference announcing that the gunman in last year’s shooting at Florida military base had links to Al Qaeda. Mr. Barr said that John H. Durham, the federal prosecutor investigating how law enforcement and intelligence officials confronted Russia’s operations to meddle in the 2016 election, was examining some aspects of the case as potential crimes but that he was focused on other people, not Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden. “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Mr. Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

By Kevin Johnson - USA TODAY

It started almost immediately, with the roll-out of the Russia investigation. Before the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were made public a year ago, Attorney General William Barr declared that there was insufficient evidence to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. A month later, Barr announced the appointment of a federal prosecutor to review the origins of Mueller’s investigation, adding to a startling assertion that the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign. When prosecutors in February recommended a stiff prison sentence for former Trump adviser Roger Stone – the last person charged in Mueller’s inquiry – Barr intervened again, prompting the dramatic withdraw of four department lawyers from case in protest. Justice's latest decision to abandon the prosecution of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, analysts said, adds yet a new chapter to the steady dismantling of Mueller’s work that had long threatened Trump’s presidency, while exposing Barr, yet again, to fresh recriminations of fueling a continuing politicization of Justice as a powerful annex of the White House. “The Department of Justice under Attorney General Bill Barr will likely be remembered as the most political Department of Justice in history,” said Jimmy Gurule, who once worked under Barr during the attorney general’s first stint at the department during the George H.W. Bush administration. "It deeply saddens me to witness the severe damage inflicted ... to the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice.” David Weinstein, a longtime former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Justice's repeated interventions in the Mueller cases is "setting a pattern that I have never seen before." "Brick by brick, Barr is taking apart the house that Mueller built," Weinstein said. "And the only reasonable explanation for it is that the president wanted it to happen."

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Justice Department is dropping the criminal case against President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose lies about his contacts with Russia prompted Trump to fire him three years ago and special counsel Robert Mueller to flip him to cooperate in the Russia investigation. The request to drop the case, filed with a federal judge in DC District Court on Thursday, is a sudden end to a protracted legal battle that's lately been fertile ground for Trump to attack the early Russia investigation and former FBI leadership he dislikes. The court must still formally approve the request. Flynn twice, before two separate judges, affirmed his December 2017 agreement to plead guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI about his interactions with the then-Russian ambassador during the Trump presidential transition. But last year, he fired his original defense team and waged a campaign to try to get a judge to reverse his guilty plea. In its filing, the department condemned the FBI's work when it interviewed Flynn in the West Wing in the first weeks of the Trump presidency. The Justice Department called the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Flynn for his contacts with Russia "a no longer justifiably predicated investigation," according to the filing. "After a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information appended to the defendant's supplemental pleadings, the Government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn -- a no longer justifiably predicated investigation that the FBI had, in the Bureau's own words, prepared to close because it had yielded an 'absence of any derogatory information.'" Thursday, the Justice Department also says it can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Flynn lied, nor that his lies were substantial. - Barr is Trump's new Roy Cohn

By Alana Wise

Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department would support legal action against states that continue to impose strict social distancing rules even after coronavirus cases begin to subside in their respective states. In a Tuesday interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Barr called some current stay-at-home orders "burdens on civil liberties" and said that if they continued and lawsuits were brought, his department would side against the state. "The idea that you have to stay in your house is disturbingly close to house arrest. I'm not saying it wasn't justified. I'm not saying in some places it might still be justified. But it's very onerous, as is shutting down your livelihood," Barr said. President Trump has expressed an eagerness to reopen states' economies as soon as possible, pitching the possibility of some states easing coronavirus restrictions even before the federal guidelines on social distancing expire on May 1. Already, two states with Republican governors, Georgia and South Carolina, have said they will allow some businesses to reopen as soon as this week, despite not meeting the White House-recommended criteria to relax COVID-19 restrictions. Barr was asked what he would do with any governors who are "indifferent" to easing restrictions in their states. "We're looking carefully at a number of these rules that are being put into place," Barr said. "And if we think one goes too far, we initially try to jawbone the governors into rolling them back or adjusting them. And if they're not and people bring lawsuits, we file statement of interest and side with the plaintiffs."

By Erin Banco, Lachlan Cartwright

In a series of conversations last September, senior Department of Justice officials worked with representatives of the Australian government to hammer out an arrangement to win the release of a pair of Australian bloggers imprisoned in Tehran. At the same time those talks were taking place, Attorney General Bill Barr and his lieutenants were speaking to the Australians about another matter: getting their help as the Department of Justice looked into the origins of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Barr, like his boss, President Donald Trump, had long had a view of the Russia probe that bordered on hostile, and his review has been widely seen as an attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation, which led to the indictment of multiple Trumpworld associates. Just days before the culmination of talks in September—which coincided with an official Australian state visit—Trump himself pushed Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Barr with this inquiry. Barr followed up about the Mueller re-investigation, two U.S. officials and a third individual familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast, even as American and Australian officials finalized their arrangement to try to free the pair jailed in Iran. According to four sources—including those two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official—the American government agreed to help facilitate the release of the Australian bloggers, in part by agreeing to pull back from pursuing the extradition of an Iranian scientist held in Australia. "This story suggests that the president is continuing to use the authority of his office to pressure foreign leaders into assisting him in covering up Russia’s assistance with his 2016 victory." — Prof. Claire Finkelstein

By Kevin R. Brock, opinion contributor

“Travesty” is not a nice word. It usually is applied to gross perversions of justice, and that apparently is the context Attorney General William Barr desired when he dropped it into an interview answer the other day in the breezy courtyard of the Department of Justice (DOJ). His composed, understated delivery almost disguised the weighty magnitude of that disturbing word and the loaded adjective that preceded it. “I think what happened to him,” he said, referring to the president and the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into his campaign, “was one of the greatest travesties in American history.”   Okay, it’s important to pause for a moment and absorb what the AG said. He just called an FBI investigation not just a travesty but one of the “greatest” travesties in the nation’s history. It was an unprecedented statement by an attorney general about his own department’s premier agency.  The FBI has made plenty of mistakes, but never in its 112-year history has an FBI investigation been characterized as a travesty, let alone one that equates to other hall-of-fame travesties in American history. Is the AG’s assessment fair? The answer is entwined in his next statement: “Without any basis [the FBI] started this investigation into [Donald Trump’s] campaign ... .” Oops, stop again right there. Mr. Barr is making a definitive statement about that which many of us have speculated all along, namely that the weirdly unprecedented investigative team put together by former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe did not have adequate legal reasons to open a case into the Trump campaign in the first place. The attorney general just confirmed that. But wait a minute, doesn’t that directly contradict DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s assertion that the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation was justified?  Two things to keep in mind regarding that inconsistency.  

By David Shortell and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

(CNN) Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday called current restrictions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus "draconian," as the White House coronavirus task force's health experts have lauded such measures as helpful to lowering the rate of spread. In an interview on Fox News, Barr said that Americans should return to a more normal way of life after the Trump administration's recommended period of isolation that ends April 30 and that state and federal governments "have to consider alternative ways of protecting people" from the coronavirus pandemic. "I think when this period of time at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways, social distancing and other means, to protect themselves," Barr said. He argued that "we need to be very careful that the draconian measures that are being adopted are fully justified." Barr's comments come as President Donald Trump has been eager to open the country up and get Americans back to work, but his health experts have cautioned against relaxing the guidelines too early. The White House has advised people to socially distance, avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people, and stay at home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus. Most states have imposed enforceable "stay-at-home" orders, limiting residents to only essential activities, while Trump has said he doesn't believe a nationwide mandate is necessary. Barr said that he agreed with Trump's decision to issue strict social distancing guidelines given the uncertainty surrounding the virus last month but added that he was concerned about the breadth of the emergency powers being exercised. "I am concerned that we not get into the business of declaring everything an emergency and then using these kind of sweeping extraordinary steps," Barr said. - If you did not know before you know now Barr, Trump and the GOP don’t a shit about America lives, they only can about the money the rich are losing.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) A federal judge Thursday criticized Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the Mueller report when it was released last spring, saying Barr's early description of the report didn't match the special counsel's actual conclusions. Judge Reggie Walton asked if Barr's actions were a "calculated attempt" to help President Donald Trump and opined the attorney general had a "lack of candor" with the public and Congress. "The Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report," Walton wrote on Thursday. Barr's initial publicly announced interpretation of the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller "cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary." Barr has been under fire for months for his apparent political moves to protect the President and his allies from within the Justice Department. Walton said he will review the full Mueller report himself to make sure the Justice Department didn't over-redact it for public release. Walton said he was "troubled" by Barr's initial, quickly released letter clearing the President of wrongdoing and distancing his campaign from Russian interference in American politics. Walton also took issue with Barr's press conference about Mueller's findings and other public statements before the report was made public. "The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller's principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr's intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report -- a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report," Walton wrote.

Jerry Nadler sent William Barr a list of matters the committee finds ‘deeply troubling’ including Roger Stone case
Associated Press

The House judiciary committee is launching a wide-ranging inquiry into the attorney general, William Barr, and the justice department, demanding briefings, documents and interviews with 15 officials as it tries to determine whether there has been improper political interference in federal law enforcement. The committee chairman, Jerry Nadler, on Friday sent Barr a letter listing a series of matters that the committee finds “deeply troubling”, including Barr’s involvement in the case of Donald Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone. Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress and other charges. Barr overruled prosecutors who had recommended that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison, leading the four top prosecutors on the case to step down from it. Nadler is also questioning Barr about his involvement in other cases related to friends and associates of Trump and about internal investigations into department employees who investigated Trump after the 2016 election. “Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws,” Nadler wrote to Barr. “In turn, the House judiciary committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.” The committee is asking for briefings on the issues listed and interviews with 15 justice department officials involved in those matters, including the four prosecutors who resigned from the Stone case.

The attorney general is working to destroy the integrity and independence of the Justice Department, in order to make Donald Trump a president who can operate above the law.
By Donald Ayer

When Donald Trump chose Bill Barr to serve as attorney general in December 2018, even some moderates and liberals greeted the choice with optimism. One exuberant Democrat described him as “an excellent choice,” who could be counted on to “stand up for the department’s institutional prerogatives and … push back on any improper attempt to inject politics into its work.” At the end of his first year of service, Barr’s conduct has shown that such expectations were misplaced. Beginning in March with his public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report, which included powerful evidence of repeated obstruction of justice by the president, Barr has appeared to function much more as the president’s personal advocate than as an attorney general serving the people and government of the United States. Among the most widely reported and disturbing events have been Barr’s statements that a judicially authorized FBI investigation amounted to “spying” on the Trump campaign, and his public rejection in December of the inspector general’s considered conclusion that the Russia probe was properly initiated and overseen in an unbiased manner. Also quite unsettling was Trump’s explicit mention of Barr and Rudy Giuliani in the same breath in his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as individuals the Ukrainian president should speak with regarding the phony investigation that Ukraine was expected to publicly announce. When Donald Trump chose Bill Barr to serve as attorney general in December 2018, even some moderates and liberals greeted the choice with optimism. One exuberant Democrat described him as “an excellent choice,” who could be counted on to “stand up for the department’s institutional prerogatives and … push back on any improper attempt to inject politics into its work.” At the end of his first year of service, Barr’s conduct has shown that such expectations were misplaced. Beginning in March with his public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report, which included powerful evidence of repeated obstruction of justice by the president, Barr has appeared to function much more as the president’s personal advocate than as an attorney general serving the people and government of the United States. Among the most widely reported and disturbing events have been Barr’s statements that a judicially authorized FBI investigation amounted to “spying” on the Trump campaign, and his public rejection in December of the inspector general’s considered conclusion that the Russia probe was properly initiated and overseen in an unbiased manner. Also quite unsettling was Trump’s explicit mention of Barr and Rudy Giuliani in the same breath in his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as individuals the Ukrainian president should speak with regarding the phony investigation that Ukraine was expected to publicly announce.

By Kevin Johnson USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – A national association of federal judges has called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address growing concerns about the intervention of Justice Department officials and President Donald Trump in politically sensitive cases, the group’s president said Monday. Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, said the group “could not wait” until its spring conference to weigh in on a deepening crisis that has enveloped the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr. “There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe told USA TODAY. “We’ll talk all of this through.” Rufe, nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush, said the group of more than 1,000 federal jurists called for the meeting last week after Trump criticized prosecutors' initial sentencing recommendation for his friend Roger Stone and the Department of Justice overruled them. Trump also took a swipe at the federal judge who is set to preside at Stone’s sentencing hearing Thursday. “Is this the judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?” Trump tweeted last week, referring to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!" Jackson jailed Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, prior to his convictions in two separate financial fraud cases after he sought to tamper with potential witnesses. Rufe said the judges' association is “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case,” but she voiced strong support for Jackson. “I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule,” Rufe said, praising Jackson's reputation. “We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.” The unusual concern voiced by the judges’ group comes in the wake of an equally unusual protest. More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called on Barr to resign Sunday, claiming his handling of the Stone case "openly and repeatedly flouted" the principle of equal justice.  

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