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 TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE, who appointed Barr, has himself frequently called for the imprisonment of officials and political adversaries, ranging from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE to former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAndrew McCabe says Nassar case represents 'worst dereliction of duty' he's seen at FBI Capitol Police warning of potential for violence during rally backing rioters: report McCabe says law enforcement should take upcoming right-wing rally 'very seriously' 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.”