Attorney General Bill Barr is facing a mounting avalanche of criticism and concern over his decision to forego quarantine procedures after he was recently in close contact with several people who have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Absolutely reckless behavior from the AG,” former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers, a CNN legal analyst, said via Twitter on Saturday. “Unacceptable.”
On Sept. 26, Barr attended the by-now infamous superspreader event in the White House Rose Garden where Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett was formally nominated for a position on the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
At least eight people who attended that ceremony have since tested positive for COVID-19–including the president, his wife, and three high-profile GOP senators whose votes are instrumental in Barrett’s would-be confirmation. An additional 90-plus individuals attended that event and many of those people have tested negative–while the verdict is still out on many more. Barr’s refusal to isolate himself under such circumstances was already viewed as cause for alarm, but his specific proximity to one person in particular has prompted a wellspring of critical musing.
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway confirmed that she tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday evening–and several videos and photos show Barr mere inches away from Conway’s at the so-called and gallows-humor-denominated “Rose Garden Massacre.”
Various commentators were quick to note how close Barr and Conway were to one another at the event.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) October 3, 2020
Kellyanne Conway just confirmed reports she has COVID-19.
Here is a video of her having an extended, close conversation with Bill Barr at the Rose Garden superspreader event last weekend:pic.twitter.com/s07mtfo8Rl
— LeAHHHHHH!!! 😱 🏳️🌈 (@leahmcelrath) October 3, 2020
— Tami Burages (@tburages) October 3, 2020
Barr is on video speaking with Kellyanne Conway, who has since tested positive, at the super spreader event. https://t.co/x8wofFko1M
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) October 3, 2020
And legal experts were quick to contextualize Barr’s flouting of COVID-19 guidelines promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines advise a 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to a person who has contracted the deadly contagion.
“Barr’s refusal to quarantine after exposure is not ‘toughness,'” said University of Michigan Law Professor and former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade via Twitter. “It is arrogant, irresponsible, and reckless behavior from our nation’s attorney general.”
Former lead Russiagate investigator and longtime U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney Andrew Weissmann offered a derisive estimation of Barr’s decision to avoid isolation after the event and those several subsequent diagnoses.
“Attorney General Barr’s choice not to quarantine is so fitting: enabler of presidential fictions and denier of facts,” he tweeted. “Even now. Incorrigible.”
“This is reckless and dangerous for any person – especially a person who wields power to summon others,” added attorney, former federal prosecutor, and CNN legal analyst Elie Honig via Twitter. “He’s putting DOJ staffers, and everyone else around him, at risk.”
According to CNN, the DOJ said that Barr is refusing to quarantine because he tested negative on Friday, despite his being immediately adjacent to Conway. Barr tested negative again on Saturday, according to a DOJ spokeswoman.
The Barrett event was not entirely outdoors. Barr was photographed feet away from President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, both of whom have since tested positive.
From tomorrow’s NYT A1, a reminder that the Amy Coney Barrett WH event was not entirely outdoors pic.twitter.com/wSJvKOY4JD
— Rebecca Buck (@RebeccaBuck) October 3, 2020
[image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
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