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Barr criticizes DOJ in speech declaring all agency power 'is invested in the attorney general'

Barr criticizes DOJ in speech declaring all agency power 'is invested in the attorney general'
© Washington Post

Attorney General William Barr asserted his authority to intervene in politically charged cases and castigated career Department of Justice (DOJ) staff in a Wednesday speech.

“What exactly am I interfering with? Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general,” Barr said in the speech at Hillsdale College, a conservative Michigan institution.

The attorney general mocked the idea that such decisions should be at the discretion of less-senior DOJ attorneys, according to The Washington Post.

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“Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency,” he said.

The attorney general also attacked state shutdown measures during the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, telling the audience “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.”

Barr has said that he does not believe there is any systemic racism in the application of the law.

In his remarks, the attorney general also took aim at “the criminalization of politics” in the form of media figures speculating that elected officials had committed “some esoteric crime.”

“Now you have to call your adversary a criminal, and instead of beating them politically, you try to put them in jail,” Barr said.

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“If you’re not in power, you’re in jail — or you’re a member of the press,” he added.

President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE, who appointed Barr, has himself frequently called for the imprisonment of officials and political adversaries, ranging from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm Pelosi top fundraiser moves to House Democratic super PAC Mean tweets may take down Biden nominee MORE to former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Trump DOJ officials sought to block search of Giuliani records: report Tina Fey, Amy Poehler to host Golden Globes from separate coasts amid pandemic MORE and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeJohn Durham's endgame: Don't expect criminal charges Carter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe McCabe defends investigation of Trump before Senate committee: We had 'many reasons' MORE.

Barr also attacked unnamed Justice Department officials who he said had sought to boost their own profiles with high-profile prosecutions.

“I’d like to be able to say that we don’t see headhunting in the Department of Justice,” Barr said. “That would not be truthful. I see it every day.”