Former DOJ officials sound the alarm about Bill Barr’s 'dangerous abuse of power': report

Former DOJ officials sound the alarm about Bill Barr’s 'dangerous abuse of power': report
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, listens as U.S. Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks Thursday, July 11, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House to expand on President Trump's Executive Order requiring every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in the United States. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

William Barr's official title is "U.S. attorney general," but numerous critics of the Trump loyalist have argued that he conducts himself more like President Donald Trump's personal attorney and fixer — a position once held by Michael Cohen. Journalist Kyle Cheney, in a Politico article published on September 29, discusses some of the intense criticism of Barr that is coming from the legal world and why some DOJ alumni are so troubled by the attorney general's conduct on behalf of Dear Leader.

Cheney explains, "The prosecution of Michael Flynn, a Senate investigation into the provenance of the Steele Dossier, the nascent federal probe of discarded absentee ballots in Pennsylvania — in recent days, the Justice Department has declassified or disclosed sensitive materials related to each of these proceedings that, on the surface, have little to do with each other. Yet within hours, President Donald Trump had weaponized each to boost his reelection campaign."

According to Cheney, some "veteran prosecutors and attorneys" view Barr's recent actions as evidence of an "intensifying effort to use the Department (of Justice) to support Trump's political fortunes."

Defense attorney William Jeffress, who represented President Richard Nixon after his resignation in August 1974, told Politico that Barr's "actions are not typical. Tradition is that politically sensitive actions by DOJ go dark at least 60 days before an election."

Politico also spoke to Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor who became a defense lawyer. Rossi told Politico, "The attorney general is working hand in glove with the White House and the Trump reelection campaign. We have not seen that level of unseemly coordination since Attorney General John Mitchell."

The late John N. Mitchell, who served as U.S. attorney general under Nixon from 1969-1972, was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury and other Watergate-related offenses in 1975 and sentenced to federal prison. He served 19 months before being paroled.

Democrats, Cheney notes, are "most alarmed about what they say is a Justice Department effort to aid Trump politically."

"Trump has baselessly asserted a widespread campaign of voter fraud that calls the legitimacy of the 2020 election into doubt — a claim that has been rejected by lawmakers of both parties, intelligence officials and his own hand-picked FBI director," Cheney observes. "Yet on Thursday, a U.S. attorney from Pennsylvania issued an unusual letter that revealed a newly opened investigation into a handful of mishandled ballots in a Pennsylvania election office."

Cheney continues, "Though local officials have indicated the episode was likely a technical error, the U.S. attorney, David Freed, revealed that the affected ballots were cast for Trump — a detail that has become a fixture of Trump public comments in the days since. Other media outlets reported that Attorney General William Barr personally flagged the news to the president, who proceeded to tease the discovery in a radio interview before it was publicly announced."

Nick Akerman, who was a prosecutor during the Watergate era, finds Barr's Pennsylvania-related actions troubling and told Politico, "This is not something that the attorney general should even be telling Trump or they should be announcing in any fashion."

Federal prosecutor James Herbert has been sounding the alarm about Barr. In a recent letter to the Boston Globe, Herbert wrote, "While I am a federal prosecutor, I am writing to express my own views, clearly not those of the Department (of Justice), on a matter that should concern all citizens: the unprecedented politicization of the office of the attorney general. 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."

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