U.S. Attorney General William Barr, proving once again he sees his job as a protector of discredited president Donald Trump as more important than serving the nation, is disputing a key finding of the Justice Department’s inspector general report that finds a need to investigate the administration abuses of the law in the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats openly and some Republicans behind close doors say Barr is acting more like Trump personal attorney and, by doing so, erodes the necessary independence of the Justice Department.
Trump allies, of course, see Barr’s actions as necessary to validate their belief that the president is above any and all laws of the land.
Barr, says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has “gone rogue.”
Barr’s actions appear to widen the gap between the professional legal staff of the Justice Department and their boss, who appears to be pledging absolute loyalty to Trump.
But while Barr can interfere with how the findings of inspector general Michael Horowitz, he cannot modify or change his finding. The inspector general is independent and does not answer to the attorney general.
Justice Department spokesman Jerri Kupic calls Horowitz’s report “a credit to the Department of Justice. His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves. Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the Inspector General’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters.”
When the report is released in the next week or so, it may or may not include a formal written statement by Barr. He may choose to go public with his criticisms.
In a speech last month, Barr said: “In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law.”
Critics say Barr is openly impeding the Justice Department’s role of investigating what is considered a Russian plot to undermine a U.S. election. Both current and former law enforcement officials say the department “has a duty to investigate” and adds that is wrong to not launch a full investigation, which both Trump and Barr are trying to block.
When Special Counsel Robert Mueller presented his report on the 2016 election misdeeds, Barr’s claimed it found nothing worth investigating further or prosecuting.
Mueller fired off a strong memo disagreeing with Barr’s findings and examination of the full report found numerous examples of obstruction of justice by Trump and other misdeeds. Barr said a sitting president can’t be investigated. Other legal experts disagree.
Horowitz’s report is expected to disagree with Trump’s claim that investigating him or his presidency or his campaign is “a witch hunt” and finds opening an investigation was done so “on solid legal and factual footing.”
But will it change anything within a Justice Department run by a political devotee of a president who doesn’t think the law applies to anything he does?
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