A Republican lawmaker and university professor have come out in defense of Attorney General (AG) William Barr amid claims from the left the nation’s top law enforcement official has allowed President Donald Trump to politicize the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who served as a top GOP witness during the impeachment proceedings against Trump, made their pro-Barr arguments via an editorial published on Tuesday.
Their op-ed came in the wake of two letters calling on Barr to resign, mainly over his handling of the criminal case involving Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone. A group of nine Democrat Senators signed one of the letters, and more than 2,000 ex-DOJ employees, including never-Trump Republicans, signed the other.
The left argues that Barr overruled the federal prosecutors’ sentence recommendation of seven to nine years for Stone to appease Trump, a claim denied by the AG.
Barr will recommend a lighter punishment for 67-year-old Stone, who stands convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation, making false statements to investigators, and tampering with witnesses in connection to the Russian collusion hoax probe.
In an op-ed published by the Federalist, Rep. Roy noted that while the left is outraged over Barr’s handling of alleged political interference by Trump, it ignored “far worse” actions taken by former President Barack Obama’s DOJ.
Roy pointed out:
What about an attorney general who politicizes the DOJ at the expense of adherence to the rule of law, packs the department with activists, is repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court, and acts in direct conflict with well-accepted policies and procedures, then hides it? What if that attorney general is Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch [who served under Obama]?
Put aside the fact that Holder was held in contempt in the U.S. House—let’s chalk that up to politics and overlook the 17 Democrats who voted for contempt. Even a cursory review of the record shows that Holder, and his successor Lynch, abused power in the Department of Justice for a full eight years while carrying out hatchet work for President Obama.
Roy noted that Holder, who self-identified as “an activist attorney general,” said he was “proud” of turning DOJ’s Civil Rights Division into a political weapon.
The Republican lawmaker highlighted several actions taken by Obama’s DOJ without any pushback from the left, including Holder’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigators looking into the “Fast and Furious” operation. Roy wrote:
Under Holder, the notorious “Fast and Furious” operation was carried out. In it, guns were run to Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent [and many Mexicans]. Holder refused to cooperate with House investigators to turn over information.
Meanwhile, in his editorial published by the Hill, Turley, who identified himself as Barr’s friend, argued that the AG was right to overturn Stone’s sentence recommendation. He also pointed out that it is not unprecedented for DOJ leadership to reverse federal prosecutors’ recommendation.
Many media analysts and legal experts ignored one relevant point, which is that Barr was correct. Justice Department prosecutors were wildly off base in their initial draconian recommendation of seven to nine years in prison for Stone. It was on the high end of the sentencing guidelines range, but only because prosecutors “stacked” counts against Stone, who is generally viewed as a clownish political provocateur.
It is not unprecedented for Main Justice [DOJ leadership] to overrule local prosecutors. For example, in 2008 when President Obama was first running for the White House, prosecutors wanted to bring charges against Black Panthers who stood in front of polling places brandishing weapons. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department overruled them, despite a rather widespread view that the men were trying to intimidate voters. There were no calls to impeach or incarcerate Holder, who was widely viewed as one of the most political attorney generals in modern history.
None of this means that there was no political interference or that there should not be an investigation. There are serious credible concerns to be investigated, and Barr has agreed to appear before Congress to answer those questions. However, the critics have shown the very same disregard for the facts, the merits, and the process that they ascribe to Barr.
Turley acknowledged his own bias regarding Barr, with whom he shares a decades-old friendship.