This is literally subordinating the entire machinery of justice to the personal service of Donald Trump:
Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call.He is also excoriating professional staff for resisting the politicization of the Department of Justice, ignoring the obvious, even the most junior associate at a law firm is required to speak out if they think that what is proposed is illegal or unethical.
The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who described Mr. Barr’s comments on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
The attorney general has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions.
During a speech on Wednesday night, Mr. Barr noted that the Supreme Court had determined that the executive branch had “virtually unchecked discretion” in deciding whether to prosecute cases. He did not mention Ms. Durkan or the sedition statute.
“The power to execute and enforce the law is an executive function altogether,” Mr. Barr said in remarks at an event in suburban Washington celebrating the Constitution. “That means discretion is invested in the executive to determine when to exercise the prosecutorial power.”
The disclosures came as Mr. Barr directly inserted himself into the presidential race in recent days to warn that the United States would be on the brink of destruction if Mr. Trump lost. He told a Chicago Tribune columnist that the nation could find itself “irrevocably committed to the socialist path” if Mr. Trump lost and that the country faced “a clear fork in the road.”
The attorney general’s question about whether Ms. Durkan, the former U.S. attorney in Seattle, had violated any federal statutes by allowing the protest zone was highly unusual, former law enforcement officials said.
“The attorney general seems personally, deeply offended by the autonomous zone and wants someone to pay for it,” said Chuck Rosenberg, the former U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. “If the people of Seattle are personally offended, they have political recourse. There is no reason to try to stretch a criminal statute to cover the conduct.”
Mr. Barr mentioned sedition as part of a list of possible federal statutes that prosecutors could use to bring charges, including assaulting a federal officer, rioting, use of explosives and racketeering, according to the people familiar with the call. Justice Department officials included sedition on a list of such charges in a follow-up email.
The most extreme form of the federal sedition law, which is rarely invoked, criminalizes conspiracies to overthrow the government of the United States — an extraordinary situation that does not seem to fit the circumstances of the protests and unrest in places like Portland, Ore., and elsewhere in response to police killings of Black men.
Congress has stipulated that a conviction on a charge of seditious conspiracy can carry up to 20 years in prison.
If Barr has his law license a year after he leaves office, they system will have failed:
Attorney General William P. Barr delivered a scathing critique of his own Justice Department on Wednesday night, insisting on his absolute authority to overrule career staffers, who he said too often injected themselves into politics and went “headhunting” for high-profile targets.
Speaking at an event hosted by Hillsdale College, a school with deep ties to conservative politics, Barr directly addressed the criticism that has been building for months inside the department toward his heavy hand in politically sensitive cases, particularly those involving associates of President Trump.
“What exactly am I interfering with?” he asked. “Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general.”
Barr said that argument, in essence, means “the will of the most junior member of the organization” would determine decisions, but he insisted he would not “blindly” defer to “whatever those subordinates want to do.”
“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,” he said.
The attorney general, the nation’s top law enforcement official, spent much of the speech eviscerating the idea of the Justice Department as a place where nonpolitical career prosecutors should be left to decide how sensitive cases are resolved.