The U.S. House of Representatives is taking aim at myriad alleged shenanigans widely believed to have been committed by Attorney General William Barr at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) at the behest of and on behalf of President Donald Trump.
In a four-page letter sent to Barr on Friday, the House Judiciary Committee previewed a late March oversight hearing by issuing a formal request for “information concerning improper political interference” by the 45th president and others “in enforcement
matters handled” by the DOJ.
“The abandonment of these longstanding practices has motivated more than 2,000 former [DOJ employees—public servants of both parties, including but not limited to a former Deputy Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush to call for your resignation,” the sternly-worded letter begins.
Democrats also use Barr’s own words against him by citing his generally-panned ABC News interview from earlier this month wherein the attorney general essentially called on Trump to stop tweeting about ongoing DOJ matters.
“These circumstances are deeply troubling,” House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) writes to Barr in the letter. “Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.”
The letter outlines several major criminal and civil matters allegedly impacted by Barr’s untoward interference including the Michael Flynn case and the controversial—seemingly favorite-playing—removal of Paul Manafort from the decrepit prison on Rikers Island.
The letter also casts aspersions about the meta-Russiagate investigation headed up by torture whitewasher John Durham.
Nadler calls out Barr for the DOJ “organizing a series of inquiries into the conduct of career law enforcement officials and investigations related to” Trump’s 2016 campaign apparatus “notwithstanding the December 2019 Inspector General Report,” which dismissed concerns about political bias tainting the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
There’s also a ding against Barr over the Ukraine whistleblower contretemps and for helping Trump allegedly use anti-trust law to go after his perceived media opponents.
To that end, House Democrats have issued a wide-ranging request—not an official subpoena, of course—that calls for Barr and his DOJ to take five specific types of action.
First, Nadler and his colleagues want “a full briefing” on every single issue outlined in the letter. No small ask because of the expansiveness here.
Second, Democrats are requesting that DOJ “make available current and former officials for testimony or interviews regarding” over a dozen current and recently fired federal prosecutors working in various U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country.
Third, the Judiciary Committee is asking for a “description of each instance in the last 10 years when senior” DOJ officials intervened “to alter sentencing recommendations” made by other federal prosecutors—a clear allusion to Barr’s obvious and Trump’s admitted interference in the ongoing Stone saga.
The fourth and fifth requests are largely duplicative and reflect a stated desire for copies of “documents and communications” regarding Trump and the DOJ’s behind-the-scenes machinations—related to the four overarching issues above—in general and for production of such files that may bear on and include Trump and Barr in particular.
“Given your experience at the Department, I am confident you are familiar with these precedents and expect [DOJ] to act consistent with the letter and spirit of the previous cooperation we have enjoyed with your predecessors,” the letter somewhat optimistically concludes.
[image via screengrab/PBS]
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