Barr purges yet another Justice official without explanation as election ticks closer

Barr purges yet another Justice official without explanation as election ticks closer
PBS NewsHour

It just keeps going. Yet again, Trump's attorney general, William Barr, has without warning removed a high-level Justice Department official and replaced that person with a new political hire. ABC News reports that Barr has removed Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brad Wiegmann, a career employee in the National Security Division.

Wiegmann's office "helps ensure federal counterterrorism and counterintelligence activities are legal," in ABC's phrasing—an oversight office reining in other government departments that attempt to overstep their legal bounds. Now he's been booted, replaced by new political appointee Kellen Dwyer.

While there's a lot of hemming and hawing about Barr having the legal ability to do such things if and when he wants to, replacing yet another Justice Department official just before the November elections—and one tasked with counterintelligence investigations, no less—is another bizarre move that just happens to be the thing you'd do if you were trying to 1) protect Donald Trump from government investigations or 2) force government investigations against Trump's opponents.

The Trump-Barr purge of government officials has focused heavily on oversight officials, many of whom were investigating whether individual actions by Trump or one of his allies broke federal laws. The removal of a career oversight official who acted as legal roadblock to what national security and counterintelligence officials could do is therefore extra alarming given Barr's amply reported personal interest in probes of Joe Biden and of U.S. law enforcement officials who investigated the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

It's not a given that Barr's act is intended to facilitate corruption. It's just very, very, very consistent with an existing pattern of removing oversight officials in positions to identify and call out that corruption.

If Trump loses the election, how many federal investigations will a reformed government have to undertake just to get to the bottom of half of Team Trump's strange and unexplained actions?


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