Politics Barr pledged that investigations would be ‘sacrosanct from political influence.’ That’s in real doubt now.

00:45  13 february  2020
00:45  13 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

FBI chief: No one asked me to open probes on improper basis

  FBI chief: No one asked me to open probes on improper basis FBI Director Chris Wray avoided a direct answer when asked if President Donald Trump had asked him for investigations into political opponents.Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, Wray was asked whether Trump, Attorney General William Barr or anyone else had requested an investigation into Trump Democratic rival Joe Biden or son Hunter Biden, or into any members of Congress.

That ’ s in real doubt now . Attorney General William P Barr departs after President Trump delivers remarks at the White House last month. Barr at another point was asked what would be the breaking point in which he would resign rather than carry out the directive — his “Jim Mattis moment,” in the

Now they see in him someone who has glossed over Mr. Trump’ s misdeeds, smeared his investigators and positioned himself to possibly declassify information for political gain — not the Bill Barr “I thought he was an institutionalist who would protect the department from political influence .

Attorney General William P. Barr faced big questions during his confirmation last year about whether he would maintain independence from President Trump when it came to the Russia investigation. To combat them, he assured senators — repeatedly — that he viewed his job as conducting investigations irrespective of the president’s political wishes.

That’s increasingly in doubt.

On Tuesday, all four prosecutors on the Roger Stone case moved to withdraw after senior Justice Department officials overrode their recommended sentence for Stone. The unorthodox move was announced shortly after Trump decried the proposed sentence of seven to nine years. The Justice Department said Trump’s comments played no role and came after the decision was made.

Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani

  Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) is demanding answers from Attorney General William Barr about a Justice Department "intake process" that will review information on Ukraine from President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani.In a letter sent to the attorney general, Nadler called on Barr to provide a "complete explanation" regarding his decision to sidestep standard practice and set up another channel for information coming out of Ukraine. He asked the attorney general to answer 11 questions related to the arrangement by Feb. 25.

Mr. Barr immediately knew that he would be engulfed in a scandal. The prison had promised to keep Mr. Epstein under constant surveillance until he could be tried on charges of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls. With his accusers now robbed of their day in court, the Justice Department, which

Barr pledged that under his leadership at the department, Mueller " will be allowed to complete his work." I can assure you that, where judgments are to be made by me, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and will let no personal, political or other improper interests influence my

Even if that’s true, this is still higher-ups in the Justice Department intervening on behalf of perhaps the president’s oldest political ally to reduce his recommended sentence. And Trump on Wednesday implicated Barr directly in that effort, tweeting his congratulations to him for the decision to overrule the prosecutors.

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It’s the kind of situation that Barr indicated during his confirmation that he would guard against.

At the time, such questions pertained mostly to his impending oversight of the Russia investigation. But lawmakers also asked him more broadly about whether he would do Trump’s bidding. The president, after all, had repeatedly expressed frustration that his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had not taken the investigatory actions Trump desired.

Trump Congratulates William Barr for Eliminating Justice Department Independence

  Trump Congratulates William Barr for Eliminating Justice Department Independence The Roy Cohn–ization of federal law enforcement is complete.In June of 2016, former president Bill Clinton bumped into Attorney General Loretta Lynch at an airport in Phoenix. The brief social chat inspired headlines such as “Meeting Between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch Provokes Political Furor” (New York Times) and “Democrats Groan After Bill Clinton Meets Loretta Lynch” (Politico). From the standpoint of today, these stories read almost as fantastically naïve dispatches from a distant realm.

Instead, Mr. Barr suggested that the president’ s position was a reasonable one, at least as it pertained to the Mueller inquiry. To let individual U. S . attorney’ s work without supervision or make assurances about individual investigations would be an abdication of that responsibility, he said.

So that meant that the special counsel, the person who had been put there to protect themselves from politics , had no determination. And Barr writes this long before his attorney general. What is meaningful about that memo and that legal logic about obstruction of justice now ?

Barr had said it’s not always out-of-bounds for presidents to request specific investigations, and he has long had an extremely broad view of presidential power. But when it came to letting presidential politics seep into investigations, he said he drew a line.

At one point, he was asked about electoral advice he’d given the man who previously appointed him as attorney general, George H.W. Bush. Barr said such advice is part of an attorney general’s job, but investigations are different.

“There are sort of three roles the attorney general plays,” Barr said. “One is the enforcer of the law. In that, the role of the attorney general is to keep the enforcement process sacrosanct from political influence.”

Later, he expanded upon that answer, saying, “I think on the enforcement side, especially where matters are of either personal or political interest to people at the White House, then there would be — there has to be an arm’s length relationship.”

Barr blasts Trump's tweets: 'Impossible for me to do my job': ABC News Exclusive

  Barr blasts Trump's tweets: 'Impossible for me to do my job': ABC News Exclusive Attorney General William Barr blasted President Trump's tweets about the Roger Stone case in an exclusive interview with ABC News Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. When asked if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president – his boss – Barr said “of course” because his job is to run the Justice Department and make decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.” 1/3 SLIDES © File-Drew Angerer/Getty Images File photo: Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on Nov. 26, 2019, in Washington.

“Federal law makes clear that the documents we requested — documents that left the White House months ago — are no longer covered by executive If the vote proceeds, it would be only the second time in American history that Congress has held the nation’ s top law enforcement official in contempt

Any investigations into those matters could benefit the president by potentially undermining his political rivals. Mr. Barr also told Mr. Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that a process was now in place that would allow the Justice Department to analyze whether information

Barr also was asked what would be the breaking point at which he would resign rather than carry out the directive — his “Jim Mattis moment,” in the words of Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).

Barr assured the lawmakers: “I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president. I am going to do what I think is right.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: Attorney General William P Barr departs after President Trump delivers remarks at the White House last month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)© Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post Attorney General William P Barr departs after President Trump delivers remarks at the White House last month. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) Barr also repeatedly pitched himself as someone uniquely able to exercise such independence. He noted he was in the twilight of his career and didn’t need to worry about the fallout of a clash with a president.

“I feel that I’m in a position in life where I can provide the leadership necessary to protect the independence and the reputation of the department,” he said.

He added: “I feel I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences — in the sense that I can be truly independent.”

McConnell: Trump 'ought to listen to' Barr's advice on DOJ tweets

  McConnell: Trump 'ought to listen to' Barr's advice on DOJ tweets Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said President Trump should follow Attorney General William Barr's advice after the top Justice Department official said the president's tweeting was making it "impossible" to do his job. Asked during an interview with Fox News's Bret Baier about Barr's comments, McConnell said that "the president should listen to his advice.

Now that Barr has provided him with political cover from Mueller’ s report, Trump is In that memo, Barr argued that obstruction of justice is limited to things like witness tampering and destroying These critics say that presidents cannot and should not oversee, interfere with or direct investigations .

President Donald Trump' s attorney general nominee, William Barr , repeatedly sought to reassure senators Tuesday that he would not interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller' s investigation , claiming he wouldn't be "bullied" into doing anything he deemed improper.

People can judge for themselves whether those quotes contradict what we are seeing today. We will almost certainly see more evidence about how all of this went down.

But what we know today is that senior officials at Barr’s Justice Department — and perhaps Barr himself, as Trump has indicated — have overridden the decision of career prosecutors and asked for a lighter sentence for a presidential ally. And even if that initially requested sentence was on the harsh side, that’s still a highly unusual intervention.

Has this kind of thing happened with anyone else whose case didn’t involve Trump or an ally? A Justice Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and who explained the situation to The Washington Post on Tuesday, couldn’t point to one. What are the odds that the lone or one of relatively few situations in which this action would be taken just happens to be in a case involving Trump? As the now-withdrawn prosecutors argued during the case, Stone lied to investigators and tampered with a witness because the truth “looked terrible” for Trump and his campaign. So Trump has an obvious interest here.

There are also real questions about whether it’s the first time such an action has been undertaken in the case of a Trump ally. Back in January, the Justice Department requested a sentence of zero to six months in prison for former national security adviser Michael Flynn and criticized him in stark terms. A few weeks later, though, it filed something else indicating a sentence of probation would be “reasonable” and speaking in much more admiring tones about Flynn’s service to the country.

Trump Claims ‘Legal Right’ to Interfere in Justice Dept. Cases

  Trump Claims ‘Legal Right’ to Interfere in Justice Dept. Cases President Trump asserted that he had the legal right to intervene in federal criminal cases, a day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly rebuked him.In a morning tweet, Mr. Trump quoted Mr. Barr saying that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” The president said he had “so far chosen” not to interfere in a criminal case even though he insisted that he is not legally bound to do so.

That question flared anew on Friday after Mr. Barr went even further in casting doubt on the legitimacy of the investigation in two interviews that, by design or coincidence, provided fresh ammunition for President Trump and allies to attack law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Democrats have demanded that Mr. Barr protect Mr. Mueller as he completes the investigation into Russia’ s interference in the 2016 election, including Mr. Gray, who had become White House counsel under Mr. Bush, “ was intent on getting someone in that position who believed in executive authority

The Stone reversal is much more apparently problematic, but both of these cases warrant probing. And if this isn’t unusual, it would behoove the Justice Department to point to other similar instances that don’t involve Trump in some way.

Barr has long found ways to justify controversial decisions that benefit Trump, up to and including his decision not to accuse Trump of obstruction of justice following the report by then-special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III. Oftentimes, the justifications stem from his belief in the power of the presidency.

In these cases, it seems eminently possible that Trump never personally leaned on Barr to take such actions and that Barr made the decisions on his own. But it’s also true that Trump has made little secret of how he’d like them handled, via his public comments.

A relevant anecdote comes from the new book by The Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, “A Very Stable Genius.” They reported that, after the Mueller report was sent to the Justice Department, Trump didn’t reach out to Barr to suggest what he might do with it. So when Barr issued a misleading summary of it, echoed Trump’s political talking points about it and also cleared him of obstruction, he wasn’t directly acting on Trump’s orders. But he still erred decidedly in Trump’s direction.

It seems possible that that’s what happened with him or other senior officials in this case — they’ve done these things without directly taking orders from Trump and can justify them as the right things to do, free of political influence. Perhaps, in this case, they believe that’s the case because the recommended sentence for Stone was indeed harsh.

But just because Trump may not have picked up the phone and asked doesn’t mean the decision isn’t tinged by presidential politics. They had to know when they did this that it would, at the very least, look bad — as if the Justice Department might be intervening in an independent investigation in a way the president would prefer. And they did it anyway.

It’s not exactly the image of an independent Justice Department that Barr said he was uniquely able to provide.

DOJ taps U.S. attorneys to coordinate Ukraine investigations .
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department has appointed U.S. attorneys in New York and Pennsylvania to coordinate federal investigations into Ukraine-related matters, including new information collected by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In a letter sent Tuesday to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and obtained by The Associated Press, the department said that Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York, has been assigned to coordinate any investigations and other Ukraine related-matters. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that Scott Brady, the U.S.

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