Washington, Sept. 17, 2019 — Attorney General William Barr must recuse himself from all Department of Justice investigations into the origins of the FBI counterintelligence investigation regarding the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to DOJ’s top ethics official, Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus. Barr’s conduct and prejudicial public statements about the investigations continue to raise concerns that he is acting without the requisite impartiality necessary to oversee these matters.
“Since the day Attorney General Barr arrived at the Justice Department, he has conducted himself like President Trump’s personal attack dog, rather than our country’s lead law enforcement officer,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Attorney General Barr’s decision to open a counter investigation lacks a rational basis and appears retaliatory in nature. Even worse, Barr appears to be responding to the wishes of President Trump, who has repeatedly called for an investigation via tweet.”
In several press interviews, Barr made statements showing that he has prejudged many aspects of these investigations, apparently having already concluded that the Russia investigation was improperly started and used for political purposes. Barr’s actions similarly indicate he has prejudged the DOJ Office of Inspector General’s investigation, which is nearing completion and reportedly has already been submitted to Barr for review, and is actively engaged in a deliberate effort to influence the outcome of his counter investigation. This disturbing pattern of conduct strongly suggests he is unfit to oversee these sensitive matters.
“Attorney General Barr has continued to prejudge and to undermine public confidence in federal investigators,” Bookbinder said. “It is imperative that he recuse himself and refrain from pandering to the president to avoid further harm to the integrity of the Department of Justice.”
CREW previously cited Barr’s lack of impartiality in calling for his recusal from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Questions about Barr’s apparent lack of impartiality stemmed from his 19-page legal memo criticizing possible obstruction of justice charges against the president written before he was nominated to be Attorney General, as well as evidence that Barr may have misled Congress and the public about the substance of the Mueller Report in advance of its release.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org