Ex-DOJ official considers 'nightmare scenario' raised by Barr's threat against Seattle mayor
Attorney General Bill Barr (screengrab).

A former Justice Department official pondered what Attorney General William Barr's recent threats against an elected official mean for the Nov. 3 presidential election.


Matthew Miller, who directed the department's public affairs office during the Obama administration, worried about the signals Barr was sending when he suggested that prosecutors should charge Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan over protests in her city.

"The nightmare scenario I can’t stop considering: if Barr wanted to prosecute a local mayor over a policy dispute, what is he going to do on November 5 when local elections officials are still counting votes and Trump says it should stop?" Miller wondered.

Durkan and the Trump administration clashed over the handling of protesters who occupied an area out side a Seattle police precinct in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the mayor refused to allow federal troops to clear them out.

"The Department of Justice cannot become a political weapon operated at the behest of the President to target those who have spoken out against this administration's actions," Durkan said in a statement denouncing Barr's threat. "That is an act of tyranny, not of democracy."

Federal prosecutors were taken aback last week when Barr suggested during a conference call that violent protesters should be charged with sedition, or conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.

"Ultimately, this is not a story about me," said the mayor, a former U.S. Attorney. "It is about the how this president and his attorney general are willing to subvert the law and use the Department of Justice for political purposes. It is particularly egregious to try to use the civil rights laws to investigate, intimidate, or deter those that are fighting for civil rights in our country."