Barr criticizes DOJ in speech declaring all agency power ‘is invested in the attorney general’
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.
“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.
“If you’re not in power, you’re in jail — or you’re a member of the press,” he added.
President Trump, who appointed Barr, has himself frequently called for the imprisonment of officials and political adversaries, ranging from Hillary Clinton to former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
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.”