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  1. #1

    The Law and the AG

    Not sure if everyone saw Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments at Hillside College. They seemed, to me at least, to be really historic. I know there are a lot of lawyers here... does this happen very often?

    Attorney General Bill Barr...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... 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 (from another article: “You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history." Barr said )

    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.

    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.”


    https://thehill.com/homenews/adminis...er-is-invested


    ”These people (FBI agents) are agents of the attorney general. As I say, FBI agents, whose agent do you think you are?" Barr asked on Tuesday, adding that career lawyers, too, might be influenced by politics. "And I say, 'What exactly am I interfering with?' When you boil it right down, it's the will of the most junior member of the organization who has some idea he wants to do something. What makes that sacrosanct?"

    "They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face for tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions," Barr also said.


    https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/16/polit...ech/index.html


    This all seems really unusual, and to my layman’s eye, some of it even seems incorrect. Any lawyers with thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Not sure if everyone saw Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments at Hillside College. They seemed, to me at least, to be really historic. I know there are a lot of lawyers here... does this happen very often?

    Attorney General Bill Barr...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... 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 (from another article: “You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history." Barr said )

    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.

    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.”


    https://thehill.com/homenews/adminis...er-is-invested


    ”These people (FBI agents) are agents of the attorney general. As I say, FBI agents, whose agent do you think you are?" Barr asked on Tuesday, adding that career lawyers, too, might be influenced by politics. "And I say, 'What exactly am I interfering with?' When you boil it right down, it's the will of the most junior member of the organization who has some idea he wants to do something. What makes that sacrosanct?"

    "They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face for tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions," Barr also said.


    https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/16/polit...ech/index.html


    This all seems really unusual, and to my layman’s eye, some of it even seems incorrect. Any lawyers with thoughts on this?
    Minor correction, it is Hillsdale College, a conservative, Christian college in Michigan. They have a bi-monthly publication called "Imprimis" that I receive (I'm not sure how I got on their list or why they send it to me. It features a conservative author or scholar who writes on a current subject. Some of the articles are thought provoking, some a little puzzling. This month, and I haven't read it yet, it features Jason Whitolock on "American Sports Are Letting Down America".

  3. #3
    Ah sorry, too late to edit! Can I ask... are you a lawyer?

    I should add that this comes on the heels of reports of the AG telling prosecutors to consider going after violent protestors with sedition charges, and that he had the Department investigate criminal charges for the mayor of Seattle for her actions during protests.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/u...?smid=tw-share

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Ah sorry, too late to edit! Can I ask... are you a lawyer?

    I should add that this comes on the heels of reports of the AG telling prosecutors to consider going after violent protestors with sedition charges, and that he had the Department investigate criminal charges for the mayor of Seattle for her actions during protests.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/16/u...?smid=tw-share
    I am an attorney and am very interested in Barr's comments but don't claim any special expertise in this area. I may comment after a more careful review. Thanks for posting this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Watching carolina Go To HELL!
    I am not an attorney, and it's been a long time since I've stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but I think it's fair to say that AG Barr has officially jumped the shark. Again.
    Ozzie, your paradigm of optimism!

    Go To Hell carolina, Go To Hell!
    9F 9F 9F
    http://www.EGLEW.com


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by OZZIE4DUKE View Post
    I am not an attorney, and it's been a long time since I've stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but I think it's fair to say that AG Barr has officially jumped the shark. Again.

    As a non-lawyer I also found the comments a bit odd, but that's why I was asking for lawyers in particular... there are a lot of them here, and I wasn't sure if maybe the comments were more "appropriate" (for lack of a better word) than I give them credit for being?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Undisclosed
    I think the most neutral way I can say this is: Barr's views are often outside the mainstream of legal thinking. His is an exceptional norm-breaker in a norm-breaking administration.

    I believe any real comment from me on this would send me on holiday though.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    I think the most neutral way I can say this is: Barr's views are often outside the mainstream of legal thinking. His is an exceptional norm-breaker in a norm-breaking administration.

    I believe any real comment from me on this would send me on holiday though.
    I second this post. Two words come to mind: completely unhinged

  9. #9
    Are you two lawyers?

    Can I ask... do his comments make sense, legally, in any way? Like, that FBI agents are HIS agents... is that technically true?

    And this idea of violent protesters being charged with sedition... this seems a bit strange... is there a legal foundation for it, though?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Are you two lawyers?

    Can I ask... do his comments make sense, legally, in any way? Like, that FBI agents are HIS agents... is that technically true?

    And this idea of violent protesters being charged with sedition... this seems a bit strange... is there a legal foundation for it, though?
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/chi-chicagodays-seventrial-story-story.html

    To answer the 1st part of that, he has the legal standing to run a very centralized Justice department as Attorney General. Historically this is something republicans have fought against as part of a fear of a strong, centralized government.

    The 2nd part has echoes that travel all the way back to the Boston massacre, the Alien and Sedition Act Espoused by John Adams and a fairly torturous history in the United States where these types of actions are seen as infringement upon the 1st amendment and civil rights. Similar ideals were used during the civil rights marches but were not used during other insurrections like the Wilmington and Tulsa riots and one can draw their own conclusion as to why that might be the case.I am not a lawyer but I am a historian.
       

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    I think the most neutral way I can say this is: Barr's views are often outside the mainstream of legal thinking. His is an exceptional norm-breaker in a norm-breaking administration.
    Agree with OPK, whose phrasing is both cautious and dead-on. Barr is a self-described culture warrior and “man of deep faith” engaged in what he sees as an existential, holy war struggle with “modern secularists.” Here’s an article summarizing a very telling speech Barr gave last year at Notre Dame law school. I commend it to your attention.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...rvative-speech

    Barr is preparing an October surprise in the form of a report on “Russiagate” by U.S. Attorney John Durham — not incidentally himself a self-described man of “devout faith.” Barr intends that Durham produce “proof” that the FBI investigation into ties between Team Trump and Russia was an Obama-Deep State conspiracy from the beginning.

    A few days ago, Nora Dannehy, a highly respected top aide to Durham, resigned from his team, concerned that Barr is pressuring Durham to produce a report soon. I’ll speculate that either Durham’s “deep faith” will lead him to coöperate with Barr’s plan, or that Durham will follow Robert Mueller’s unfortunate example and not immediately challenge Barr, who will “summarize the substance” of Durham’s report before the election.

    I’ve no idea whether such a “Russiagate” October surprise will move the needle among those who decide at the last moment.

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