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Barr: DOJ won't be run like preschool

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrLawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion CNN legal analyst joins DOJ's national security division Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report MORE belittled the idea that lower level attorneys within his own Justice Department have any power to make decisions on how the agency is run, equating that notion to toddlers running a preschool during scathing remarks given Wednesday as part of a speech at Hillsdale College event.

"Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it's no way to run a federal agency," Barr said during his speech, according to multiple reports. "The notion that line prosecutors should make the final decisions at the Department of Justice is completely crazy." 

Barr mentioned no prosecutors by name, but warned of what he called a "permanent bureaucracy" in Washington, D.C., that seeks to control and manipulate power. 

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“Now you have to call your adversary a criminal, and instead of beating them politically, you try to put them in jail,” Barr said, decrying what he said amounts to a "criminalization of politics." 

Barr has taken flak for his strong defense of President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE's executive authority. 

“Unfortunately over the past several decades we have seen the steady encroachment on executive authority by the other branches of government,” Barr said during a speech late last year. "I'm concerned that the deck has become stacked against the executive and that since the mid-'60s there's been a steady grinding down of the executive branch's authority that accelerated after Watergate."

Within the Justice Department, Barr has slammed former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election as overly political and lacking merit.

Separately, Barr was criticized for his rolling out of Mueller's report, which Democrats say was done with Trump's political interest in mind rather than the law.  

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"There is no basis to question the work or good faith of any of these career department lawyers," the Justice Department said in a statement earlier this year defending the decision. "The department stands by their work, as well as the attorney general’s statements and efforts to provide as much transparency as possible in connection with the special counsel’s confidential report.”

Trump, Barr and their allies on Capitol Hill have pointed to a so-called deep state ploy to surveil Trump's 2016 campaign, opened by members of the FBI and Justice Department that year on what Barr told Congress he believed to be "the thinnest of suspicions" of foreign interference in the election. 

He has also been critical of Black Lives Matter protests and the widespread rioting in cities like Portland, Ore., and Seattle this summer. 

"They talk about the rule of law, they talk about the accordance of the federal legal system to protect civil rights, but the heart of that is our court system, and they're not willing, not one of them piped up to say it's not OK to be burning down federal courts," Barr said during an appearance on Fox News earlier this year. "Why? Some of them are true believers. Some of them are essentially revolutionary, and they may not believe in tearing down the system, but many of them are just cowards who are mostly interested in getting reelected and are afraid of a challenge from vote."