In a scorching column for the Daily Beast, the former counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno said current AG Bill Barr has done nothing but wreak havoc at the Justice Department since Donald Trump appointed him.
According to Shan Wu, who also doubles as a CNN legal analyst, despite Barr's protestations that he is not influenced by the president, there is more evidence to prove that he is than not.
"Make no mistake about it: Attorney General William Barr is taking direct control of the cases closest to Donald Trump. He is doing so under the pretense of ordering “reviews” of Michael Flynn’s case and others that are officially being handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia," Wu wrote. "I served in that office as a federal prosecutor for over 10 years before becoming counsel to then-Attorney General Janet Reno. In my time as a federal prosecutor, I never witnessed anything remotely like Barr’s naked grab for power now."
According to Wu, in all of his time at the Justice Department, he had never seen an attorney general overrule the independent prosecutors and investigators the way Barr has.
"The United States Attorney’s Offices are located within each of the 94 judicial districts in the United States, serving as each district’s 'local' federal prosecutor. Although they are part of the Justice Department, they operate with a good deal of independence and, in my experience, this independence was greatly respected by the higher-ups at the Justice Department, in part because line prosecutors in U.S. Attorney offices handled a far greater volume of cases than do the sections at Main Justice," he explained. "When I was a federal prosecutor in D.C. I do not remember a single instance of Main Justice, as it’s called, taking control over our cases."
"When I worked for Reno, I saw the care she devoted to avoiding even the perception of political influence in prosecutorial decisions," he continued. "Not only did the AG herself avoid discussing particular criminal cases with politicians but those who worked for her in the leadership offices treaded cautiously even when communicating with U.S. Attorney offices and sections at Main Justice. We understood that even an inquiry from the attorney general’s office or the deputy attorney general’s office could be perceived as pressure or interference."
Which brought him back to Barr.
"Barr, however, is grossly violating all of this. His public opining about his disagreement over the sentencing recommendation made by the trial team in Roger Stone inserted the attorney general directly into that case —a case that involved a close associate of the president who had appointed Barr. His use of an outside prosecutor to review the Michael Flynn case is a poorly masked effort to directly interfere with a case that has already resulted in a conviction by guilty plea," he wrote, adding, "There have been other attorney generals who abused their power. Harry Daugherty was caught up in the Harding administration’s Teapot Dome scandal and forced to resign. John Mitchell was convicted of perjury committed in the course of Watergate. But these may be one-off acts of corruption. They pale in comparison to the pattern of interference engaged in by Barr. The damage he has done and continues to do to the Department of Justice may never be fully repaired."
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