Rogue Attorney General William Barr Declares Absolute Authority, Says Prosecutors Are Partisan ‘Headhunters,’ Lies About Supreme Court, Equates Virus Lockdowns With Slavery
Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday went full authoritarian by declaring himself the supreme head of law enforcement and comparing the Justice Department to a pre-school during a discussion at a “Constitution Day” celebration at Hillsdale College, a private, conservative institution in Hillsdale, Michigan.
As if he were impersonating Palpatine before he dissolved the Galactic Senate, Barr decreed that he is the law, two weeks after President Donald Trump issued an edict granting Barr unprecedented, unilateral authority over law enforcement across the country.
Barr delivered his remarks amid exploding public outrage over his decision to funnel Justice Department resources to aid in Trump’s personal defense in a defamation suit (one that he is losing) against one of 26 women that have accused the president of sexual assault – for influencing the criminal proceedings against Roger Stone and Michael Flynn – for covering up the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whom Trump has accused of treason – for pledging to treat protesters as terrorists – for advocating sedition charges against protesters – and for undermining the Federal Bureau of Investigation – all of which are abuses of the power of the office of attorney general and pose an imminent threat to individual liberty, separation of powers, and equal justice.
Attorney General causes controversy after saying that calls for a coronavirus lockdown are “the greatest intrusion on civil liberties since slavery.” @PierreTABC has the story. https://t.co/xzpJtkW5j7 pic.twitter.com/G7wbYskoKf
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 17, 2020
But Barr does not view things that way. Instead, he insisted at Hillsdale that he gets to decide how the law functions.
“What exactly am I interfering with? Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general,” Barr said.
Barr projected his hypocrisy onto the Justice Department, berating attorneys that represent the people of the United States – not the president – as “headhunters” with personal agendas.
“Even the most well-meaning people can do great damage if they lose perspective,” Barr said. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target.”
In a sense, Barr said that the inmates are running the asylum at DOJ, though he did not specify who, what, or how that is occurring beyond his own corrupt conduct.
“Name one successful organization or institution where the lowest level employees’ decisions are deemed sacrosanct — there aren’t. There aren’t any letting the most junior members set the agenda,” Barr continued. “Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency.”
Not to be “pompous,” but they work for me, he lamented.
“Whose agents do you think you are?” Barr asked of public servants – specifically at the FBI – who like Barr swore oaths to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution – not Trump.
“These people are agents of the attorney general,” Barr said. “I don’t say this in a pompous way, but that is the chain of authority and legitimacy in the Department of Justice.”
Barr insinuated that federal prosecutors have no legitimate legal discretion.
“Line prosecutors … are generally part of the permanent bureaucracy,” Barr said. “They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face of tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions.”
He stressed that his job requires him to be political, because some federal prosecutors simply cannot quench their thirst for vengeance.
“The attorney general, senior DOJ officials and U.S. attorneys are indeed political, but they are political in a good and necessary sense,” Barr added. “In case after case, we have advanced and defended hyper-aggressive extensions of the criminal law. This is wrong and we must stop doing it. We should want a fair system with clear rules that the people can understand. It does not serve the ends of justice to advocate for fuzzy and manipulable criminal prohibitions that maximize our options as prosecutors. Preventing that sort of pro-prosecutor uncertainty is what the ancient rule of lenity is all about.”
Then he accused former President Barack Obama of attempting to improperly influence the Supreme Court.
“Again, the Obama administration, you know had some of the people in Mueller’s office writing their briefs for the Supreme Court so maybe that explains something,” Barr said. “You know, they’re not crowing so much after they got whooped in the Supreme Court.”
The Court – whose majority leaned to the right – sided with Obama more often than with Trump. In fact, Trump has lost more cases than any other president.
Afterward, Barr stuck around to answer questions, and things got even darker.
He expressed total opposition to COVID-19 quarantine measures and social distancing guidelines that can slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 197,000 Americans since March. The pandemic, meanwhile, is accelerating, and the national death count could top 400,000 by 2021.
If Trump – who has advised injecting bleach as treatment and admitted to intentionally downplaying the emergency – and his cabal of “herd immunity” proponents have their way, more than 6.4 million people in the United States would die.
For Barr, however, ordering people to stay home for their own safety and the wellbeing of others is basically slavery.
“Putting a national lockdown, stay-at-home orders, is like house arrest,” the attorney general claimed. “Other than slavery, which was another kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
At this point, Barr could roll a spliff with the Constitution because nobody with oversight power is holding him accountable.