Former US Attorney Patrick Cotter once had Bill Barr’s picture hanging on his wall — but not anymore.
Speaking to MSNBC host Ali Velshi Thursday, Cotter explained that what’s happening at the Justice Department is like nothing he’s ever seen during his time on the job.
“I will tell you the attorney general is appointed to administer the law fairly and impartially, and that’s the line that I see has been rolled over like a tank by the president who has clearly, clearly applied enormous pressure to the DOJ in favor of a personal friend of his,” said Cotter.
Velshi asked where the line is, given the attorney general is appointed by the president to oversee the DOJ.
“Is it typical when you were prosecuting a case for the attorney general to have been involved in sentencing?” Velshi asked.
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Cotter said. “I worked on some very high profile cases. I was part of the team that prosecuted John Gotti, and we never heard from main Justice about our sentencing recommendation or any other part of that case except when we submitted the case and said we wanted to prosecute. That’s when DOJ has a voice, and they should, but the line — attorneys are the ones that know the case, and sentencing recommendations are determined by the sentencing guidelines and the facts of the case. The attorney general should and traditionally has no role in that process whatsoever.”
Velshi noted that in both 1991 and 2019, Barr told the Senate that there would be nothing worse than political interference in the Justice Department. He played both clips saying that either Barr believes that and is still making decisions in Trump’s favor, or he was outright lying.
“Bill Barr doesn’t have to read the Donald Trump mind, Donald Trump tweets exactly what he wants,” Cotter explained. “And within hours William Barr does it. I wish Mr. Barr, who I worked for, and who personally gave me an award. I used to have his picture on my wall. I wish that he was… living and exercising his authority the way he testified in Congress. But he is not. It is clear. You would have to be blind not to see that the president is exercising power and influence on the Department of Justice.”
He went on to call it a conspiracy in plain view.
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