AG Barr rebukes career DOJ prosecutors for political 'headhunting,' insubordination

AG also decries culture of criminalizing political differences in America.

Updated: September 17, 2020 - 12:47pm

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In a stunning rebuke, Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday night decried the conduct of many career prosecutors inside his Justice Department whom he said were too interested in political "headhunting" and unwilling to accept policy decisions from their chain of command,

"Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency," Barr said during an event hosted by the conservative Hillsdale College.

Barr said he is refusing to allow insubordinate prosecutors dictate policy, rejecting the notion that such leadership constitutes political interference.

"What exactly am I interfering with?" he asked. "Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general."

Barr has tangled with career prosecutors, including some from the Robert Mueller investigation, overruling a decision to seek a tougher prison sentence for presidential friend Roger Stone and ordering the dismissal of charges against former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. He argued both decisions were driven by an equal application of the law, not politics.

Barr did raise concern about politics inside the DOJ, saying too many prosecutors were angling to score political points or career advancement by pursuing high-profile figures without regard to the evidence and law.

"I'd like to be able to say that we don't see headhunting in the Department of Justice," he said. "That would not be truthful. I see it every day."

He also decried a larger phenomenon in American politics of what he said was the criminalization of policy and political differences.

"Now you have to call your adversary a criminal, and instead of beating them politically, you try to put them in jail," Barr said, without mentioning that his boss, President Trump, has from time to time engaged in calls for his adversaries to be locked up.

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