As President Trump's Ukraine scandal enveloped D.C. last fall, eventually leading to his impeachment, public corruption prosecutors in the Justice Department were held back by Attorney General Bill Barr from investigating whether Trump had broken any other laws, the New York Times reports.
"After the Senate acquitted the president, Mr. Barr in effect took the case away from the Public Integrity Section, sending all Ukraine-related inquiries to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, according to six people familiar with the matter," the Times reports. "Compounding the prosecutors’ dissatisfaction was a stalled case around that time against a member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet, the former interior secretary Ryan Zinke. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, told the section’s lawyers that they needed a stronger case."
While the details of the case are not public, "the response from Mr. Rosen exacerbated a sense inside the Public Integrity Section that top department officials would hinder investigations into Mr. Trump and his officials, according to several people familiar with the inquiry who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive investigations."
Those tensions were brought out to the open this week after Barr issued a memo authorizing prosecutors to investigate voter fraud claims before the results of the 2020 election are certified. The move prompted the section’s lawyer who oversees voter fraud investigations, Richard Pilger, to step down in protest.
"The encounters were the latest example of Trump appointees at the top of the Justice Department overruling career prosecutors, drawing criticism that the administration was eroding the department’s typical separation from politics," the Times reports. "Critics have also accused Mr. Barr of using the department to protect Mr. Trump and further his interests."
Read the full report over at The New York Times.