William Barr: The Most Powerful Attorney General in U.S. History?

Nicholas Kamm  AFP  Getty Images

Nicholas Kamm AFP Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr reportedly told federal prosecutors to aggressively charge protesters for crimes, to make an example for other people who might want to increase violent demonstrations leading up to the November election.

Since there was never any national lockdown in place, but rather various stay-at-home orders and business shutdown mandates - which still continue in certain areas in most states - Barr chided governors for acting like "bureaucrats" and treating "free citizens as babies that can't take responsibility for themselves and others".

The offensive parallel has pissed off politicians, celebs and journalists. all of whom are going off on the AG.

"Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history", Barr said. Gee, thanks for pointing that out, Bill. "They're interested in props, a small number of Blacks who are killed by police during conflicts with police - usually less than a dozen a year - who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda".

The Democratic Party called it one of several "outrageous remarks" made by Mr Barr.

Barr's remarks come as he has repeatedly faced pushback within the department from federal career prosecutors involved in cases related to allies of President Donald Trump, such as self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" Roger Stone and Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Barr's comments also angered lockdown supporters, but he earned a round of applause at the DC event after making them.

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He suggested that politically appointed attorneys general and US attorneys can legitimately rein in prosecutors who act as "headhunters, consumed with taking down their target".

"Later, in arguing for more "detachment" from his prosecutors, Barr referenced lines from C.S. Lewis, who frequently wrote about religious themes: "'It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, '" Barr said.

"Name one successful organization or institution where the lowest level employees' decisions are deemed sacrosanct - there aren't".

"There is absolutely an agenda here to blow these out of proportion, make these look more serious or more sinister than it is", Barnett said of the pursuit of federal charges. "They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face of tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions".

Sometimes it is defensible, even desirable, for a politically appointed attorney general or US attorney to overrule lower-ranking prosecutors. Barr has emerged as the most important official in the Trump administration.

Barr reportedly also presented a list of charges under the sedition law.

The attorney general saved most of his ire for his own Justice Department ranks. On the contrary, Barr said, his active engagement in cases is "essential to the rule of law".

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