Daily US Times: US Attorney General William Barr’s provocative critique of career employees who work for him and of politics surrounding investigations in the Justice Department is his clearest acknowledgment of a worsening divide between President Donald Trump’s attorney general and his rank-and-file.
In a speech intended to celebrate Constitution Day, Barr used inflammatory rhetoric to take aim at everything from “headhunting” prosecutors to Covid lockdowns to Black Lives Matter. In the days after, some prosecutors sought to reassure colleagues that their work can continue without interference and that the Attorney General’s language, especially when he was denigrating those who work for him, was mostly focused on the internecine political fights ongoing in Washington.
One supporter of Barr’s called his comments “tone deaf.”
“Not helpful,” one senior Justice official said even as the AG was making his remarks.
Some officials inside the Justice Department describe a measure of fatigue with the attorney general’s and the President’s atypical public commentary.
There’s disquiet about claims of political taint on decisions under the Attorney General, but there’s also reticence among career officials to become whistleblowers or to speak up because many officials have calculated that it’s safer just to wait him out through the election.
Even the open letters signed by hundreds of former Justice Department officials criticizing Barr’s decision-making have become less frequent in recent months.
A former top Justice Department official said.”Most people are hanging on and hoping for a change.”
On Barr’s mind was a small subset of cases that he has taken an interest in, supporters of his say, that have been at the center of criticism of him: His intervention to overrule career prosecutors on a sentencing recommendation in the case of Roger Stone, President Trump’s former aid, who has since received a sentence commutation from Trump. And his decision to drop charges against Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to criminal charges.