“I write to express grave concern about the independence of the Department of Justice under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr.”
So begins a letter, written by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) to U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, in which the senator and presidential candidate expressed her worry over whether Barr is behaving properly within the confines of his office.
Citing testimony given by Barr to the Senate earlier this week, Harris stated that she was not satisfied with his answers to her questions — and that they demonstrated Barr may not be acting independently of the wishes or desires of President Donald Trump.
Harris wasn’t happy with Barr’s responses, for example, on whether he had been asked or prompted by the administration to open investigations into Trump’s political adversaries.
Barr, Harris wrote, “proved unable or unwilling to state whether he had been directed to open investigations at the request or suggestion of the President or other White House officials — an alarming response that strikes at the very heart of the rule of law and threatens to undermine the longstanding independence of the Justice Department.”
For someone who calls the Mueller report his "baby," the Attorney General didn't spend a lot of time looking at its underlying evidence. He failed to tell the American people the truth. It's time for Attorney General Barr to resign. pic.twitter.com/D7FeBzxUFi
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 2, 2019
Harris requested that the Inspector General open an investigation on Barr himself, to determine “whether the Attorney General has received or acted upon such improper requests” from the president or not.
Within the letter itself, Harris noted specific instances in which the AG was evasive on the question of whether the administration ever “asked or suggested” he open an investigation on Trump’s perceived political opponents.
Barr would not answer definitively whether he was asked, or whether it was “suggested,” “hinted,” or “inferred” that he open an investigation on anyone. “I don’t know,” is all he could reply, Harris noted in her letter to the Inspector General.
Harris concluded by writing:
“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.”
Beyond requesting an investigation into the attorney general, Harris, who is running for president in the Democratic primary elections for 2020, has also called for Barr to resign from his post.
She’s not the only candidate to do so, nor is she the only candidate currently within the Senate asking him to step aside. At least three other candidates for president within that legislative chamber (Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker) have also asked Barr to resign, per reporting from Vox.