Attorney general William Bar r is attracting severe criticism for his comments yesterday during an event hosted by Hillsdale College. Fo...
Attorney general William Barr is attracting severe criticism for his comments yesterday during an event hosted by Hillsdale College.
For one thing, the attorney general described shutdown orders issued at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” since slavery.
“You know, putting a national lockdown, stay at home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history,” Barr said, prompting applause from the crowd.
Barr also attacked more junior justice department staffers and dismissed accusations that he had inappropriately interfered with cases involving associates of Trump.
“Name one successful organization or institution where the lowest level employees’ decisions are deemed sacrosanct, there aren’t. There aren’t any letting the most junior members set the agenda,” Barr said.
He added, “It might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency.”
Barr also seemed to argue FBI agents were carrying out their duties to serve him. “These people are agents of the attorney general. As I say, FBI agents, whose agent do you think you are?” Barr said.
He went on to say, “And I say, ‘What exactly am I interfering with?’ When you boil it right down, it’s the will of the most junior member of the organization who has some idea he wants to do something. What makes that sacrosanct?
“They do not have the political legitimacy to be the public face for tough decisions and they lack the political buy-in necessary to publicly defend those decisions.”
The comments will likely further inflame tensions in the justice department, given career prosecutors have repeatedly raised concerns that Barr is politicizing law enforcement.
From former acting attorney general Sally Yates: