Barr accuses Justice Department of headhunting and meddling with politics

Barr accuses Justice Department of headhunting and meddling with politics

Barr’s comments were remarkable in that the head of the Justice Department catalogued all of the ways in which he thought his agency had gone astray over the years, and in its current formulation harms the body politic. Barr has drawn considerable criticism for intervening in criminal cases in ways that help benefit the president’s friends. The attorney general said it was he, not career officials, who have the ultimate authority to decide how cases should be handled, and he derided less-experienced, less-senior bureaucrats who current and former prosecutors have long insisted should be left to handle their cases free from interference from political appointees. Barr said that argument, in essence, means “the will of the most junior member of the organization” would determine decisions, but he insisted he would not “blindly” defer to “whatever those subordinates want to do.” The attorney general, the nation’s top law enforcement official, spent much of the speech eviscerating the idea of the Justice Department as a place where nonpolitical career prosecutors should be left to decide how sensitive cases are resolved. “I’d like to be able to say that we don’t see headhunting in the Department of Justice,” he said. “That would not be truthful. I see it every day.” Though Barr did not cite any particular cases, his remarks seemed to defend his recent intervention in two prosecutions of Trump’s allies. In the case against the president’s longtime friend Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to lawmakers as they ...
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