Harris requests probe into if Trump pressured Barr to open investigations

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor MORE (D-Calif.) is requesting that the Justice Department's top watchdog investigate if President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE or White House staff pressured Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrLawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Barr wrote 2018 memo contradicting Trump's claim that abuse of power is not impeachable MORE to open up any criminal investigations. 
 
Harris, one of multiple Democratic senators running for president, sent a letter on Friday to Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice's (DOJ) inspector general, asking for the watchdog office to dig into the issue, which she brought up with Barr during his appearance this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 
 
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"There must be no doubt that the Department of Justice and its leadership stand apart from partisan politics, and resist improper attempts to use the power of federal law enforcement to settle personal scores," Harris wrote in her letter.
 
She added that she had "grave concern" about Barr's independence and that previous "inappropriate requests" by Trump were "well documented" in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's report.
 
"I urge the Office of Inspector General to investigate whether the Attorney General has received or acted upon requests or suggestions, whether implied or explicit, to investigate the President’s perceived enemies," Harris wrote.
 
Harris's request for an investigation comes after she signed on to a letter earlier this week, spearheaded by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim Former Hawaii Democratic governor calls on Gabbard to resign MORE (D-Hawaii), asking the DOJ inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility to probe Barr's handling of Mueller's report.
 
 
Harris captured national headlines when she asked Barr, during his Judiciary Committee testimony on Wednesday, if Trump or anyone at the White House had ever asked or suggested he open up an investigation into anyone. 
 
Barr, who appeared to be caught off guard, hesitated, asking Harris to repeat the question and saying that he was "trying to grapple with the word 'suggest.' "
 
“There have been discussions of, of matters out there that, uh — they have not asked me to open an investigation," he said.
 
Harris pressed him further, asking if officials had “hinted” he should investigate someone. Barr said he didn’t know.
 
Harris, in her letter to Horowitz, called Barr's remarks "an alarming response that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law and threatens to undermine" DOJ's independence.