Attorney General Bill Barr asserted his authority to intervene in politically-charged cases and castigated career Justice Department 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 “[t]hey’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 TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn’t think he could’ve done more to stop virus spread Conservative activist Lauren Witzke wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware Trump defends claim coronavirus will disappear, citing ‘herd mentality’ MORE, who appointed Barr, has himself frequently called for the imprisonment of officials and political adversaries, ranging from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Biden looks to shore up Latino support in Florida MLB owner: It’s ‘very necessary’ to vote for Trump MORE to former FBI director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMichael Cohen book debuts at top of bestseller list Trump offered Kelly FBI director’s job, demanded loyalty: report Tale of two FBI cases: Clinton got warned, Trump got investigated MORE and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeRomney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes This week: House returns for pre-election sprint Senate panel to vote next week on authorizing subpoenas for Biden, Obama-era probes 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 head hunting in the Department of Justice,” Barr said. “That would not be truthful. I see it every day.”