I've noted before that US Attorney General Bill Barr's statements outside the Justice Department are extraordinarily disturbing, and indicative of a person who does not see the US Constitution as a guideline or guardrail, but something that must be wielded like a broadsword against the "other". In a largely unprecedented move, the NYC Bar Association has called for Barr to be investigated by Congress on those grounds.
The New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to investigate U.S. Attorney General William Barr, saying his recent actions and statements have positioned the Justice Department and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.”
The request disclosed on Thursday appears to be the first time the New York bar or any comparable bar association has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general. Last year, 450 former federal prosecutors from Republican and Democratic administrations signed a statement chastising Barr for his handling of the Mueller report on Russian election interference.
In a letter sent this week to the majority and minority leaders of the U.S. House and Senate, New York City Bar leaders described public statements by the attorney general as troubling for an official whose job is to enforce the law without bias.
“The duties to act impartially, to avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities are bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” according to the letter, which was posted Thursday on the association’s website.
“Mr. Barr has disregarded these fundamental obligations in several public statements during the past few months,” the letter continued.
In an October speech at the University of Notre Dame, the letter said, “Mr. Barr launched a partisan attack against ‘so-called progressives’ for supposedly waging a ‘campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.’” The letter added that in the same speech, “Mr. Barr vowed to place the Department of Justice ‘at the forefront’ of efforts to resist ‘forces of secularization.’”
At a gathering of police officials in New Orleans in December, Barr criticized district attorneys from large cities “who style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law,” the letter said.
The New York City Bar Association had previously called on Barr to recuse himself from any Justice Department matters involving the Trump administration’s policies toward Ukraine, which is the subject of impeachment proceedings in Congress.
The letter also took issue with the attorney general’s rejection of the findings of an internal investigation into the FBI’s handling of contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials.
House Democrats may see a duty here, but that would be up to House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, or newly-minted House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney. Both representatives are from NYC, so it's entirely possible this is meant to ignite exactly such an investigation.
We'll see what happens.