AG Barr undermines his own DOJ prosecutors: ‘All prosecutorial power is vested in the attorney general’

AG Barr undermines his own DOJ prosecutors: ‘All prosecutorial power is vested in the attorney general’
PBS NewsHour

U.S. Attorney General William Barr had a lot to say when he spoke at Hillsdale College in Michigan on Wednesday, September 16, and he was highly critical of some of his own federal prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice — even comparing them to headhunters.


Tensions between Barr and some U.S. attorneys have been evident in 2020, especially with the criminal case of veteran GOP operative and Trump ally Roger Stone. And in Michigan, Barr wasn’t shy about attacking others in the DOJ, describing their activities as “headhunting” and slamming them as a “permanent bureaucracy.”

Barr, one of President Donald’s unwavering loyalists in Washington, D.C., told the crowd, “The notion that line prosecutors should make the final decisions at the Department of Justice is completely crazy. Under the law, all prosecutorial power is vested in the attorney general. And these people are agents of the attorney general. As I say to FBI agents, ‘Whose agent do you think you are?’ Now, I don’t say this in a pompous way, but that is the chain of authority and legitimacy in the Department of Justice.”

The Trump loyalist also said, “Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency.”

Former Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt responded to Barr’s comments on Twitter, posting, “Career public servants bring immense value, and generally use their experience and expertise to apply principled positions across administrations.”

During his speech, Barr left no doubt how much of a Trump loyalist he is and echoed some of the president’s most controversial positions — including Trump’s irrational opposition to voting by mail. Trump has been making the baseless claim that mail-in voting is a recipe for widespread voter fraud, and Barr described Trump’s claims as “common sense.”

Barr joined Trump in railing against Black Lives Matter protesters, saying, “They’re not interested in black lives. They’re interested in props, a small number of blacks who are killed by police during conflicts with police — usually less than a dozen a year — who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.”

Trump has been highly critical of the social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders that governors have promoted in their states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Barr event went so far as to compare them to slavery.

“Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr told the crowd.

CNN pundit Errol Lewis, who is African-American, slammed Barr for equating social distancing and stay-at-home orders with slavery — telling “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota, “It’s beyond offensive.” Lewis added that as someone whose ancestors were literally slaves during the 19th Century, he found Barr’s slavery/social distancing analogy to be downright absurd.

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