Bill Barr could face probe after 4 ex-presidents of DC Bar Association sign complaint detailing his abuse of office
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has been widely criticized in the legal profession for putting the interests of President Donald Trump above the rule of law, and some of those critics include four former presidents of the District of Columbia Bar Association. According to Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan, all four of them are among the 27 attorneys who have signed a July 22 letter asking the Association to conduct an investigation to determine whether or not Barr has violated its rules.
The D.C. Barr Association authorizes attorneys to practice law in Washington, D.C., including many who work in the federal government. According to Swan, the attorneys’ “complaint argues that Barr has broken Washington’s ethics rules by being dishonest and violating his oath to uphold the Constitution, along with other charges. And it highlights four episodes in Barr’s time as attorney general to make the case: his characterization of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s 2016 election interference, his criticism of an inspector general report on the Russia probe, his criticism of FBI officials in a TV interview, and his role in the disbursement of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House.”
The letter states, “Mr. Barr’s client is the United States, and not the president. Yet Mr. Barr has consistently made decisions and taken action to serve the personal and political self-interests of President Donald Trump rather than the interest of the United States.”
The four ex-presidents of the D.C. Barr Association who signed the letter are Andrea C. Ferster, Melvin White, Philip Allen Lacovara and Marna S. Tucker. Others who signed it range from Abbe Smith (a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.) to Roy L. Austin, Jr. (a former deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division).
Swan notes, “The letter comes as Barr faces sharp criticism from leaders in the legal profession. Late last month, the president of the New York City Bar Association and chair of its task force on the rule of law sent a letter to top members of Congress calling him ‘unfit’ for his job and raising some of the same concerns raised in this letter.”
Scott Harshbarger, co-founder of Lawyers Defending American Democracy and former Massachusetts attorney general, discussed the letter in an article for Just Security and explained why the complaint is so serious.
Harshbarger emphasized, “Sober and highly experienced lawyers like those who signed the complaint wouldn’t take such an action except in extraordinary circumstances. It is only because Attorney General Barr’s abuses are so serious, so repetitive and so well documented in the complaint that the signers felt compelled to hold Mr. Barr accountable — to protect the integrity of the legal profession and the American legal system.”