‘A political coup’: Legal experts warn of politicization as Barr bypasses DC prosecutors, installs hand-picked attorney
William Barr (Screen Shot)

Just before noon on Monday Attorney General Bill Barr told reporters, “As long as I'm attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends.”

Less than an hour later The Washington Post published a report detailing that Barr was installing an attorney to oversee career federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.

"The arrival of Associate Deputy Attorney General Michael R. Sherwin — who won the conviction of a Chinese trespasser at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida in September — has triggered new accusations that Justice Department leaders are bypassing career prosecutors in the office and intervening in cases favoring the president’s allies, current and former federal prosecutors in the office said," The Washington Post reported.

“This represents a politicization of the U.S. attorney’s office of the District of Columbia that is remarkable, and unique, and unprecedented,” said Stuart M. Gerson, a Republican and former Barr aide who served as acting attorney general briefly under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. “It’s a political coup, there really can be no question about it.”

Barr's interference “seriously undermines the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C.’s … long-standing reputation for independence from political influence,” says Charles R. Work, a former federal prosecutor in that office, who was a Republican Justice Department political appointee and president of the D.C. Bar.

They are far from the only ones.

On social media legal experts quickly responded to the news.