By the way “violent crimes” also include vandalism and destruction of property.
Courtesy of TPM:
Attorney General Bill Barr encouraged federal prosecutors to choose the most serious charges for those arrested for violent crimes during protests, including by way of a rarely used sedition law that would charge the demonstrators with plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.
President Donald Trump has previously accused at least one Black Lives Matter activist of treason.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Barr offered up a number of statutes for the prosecutors to use in a call last week and pushed them to use federal charges even when state ones could apply.
Barr, following Trump’s lead, has put prosecuting protesters front and center in his agenda, often making no distinction between those demonstrating peacefully and those the FBI has identified as opportunistic interlopers taking advantage of the chaotic scenes.
“Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said of the Portland protests during a July House hearing.
Trump too has largely conflated Black Lives Matter protesters and the mostly made up “Antifa” extremists into one malevolent black-clad force looking to invade the suburbs and wreak general havoc.
The Trump campaign and White House have been candid about their belief that centering attention on the protests — which in some cities have included or provided cover for looting, arson and violence — is the President’s winningest path to reelection.
A conviction for sedition could lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
That is a pretty steep price to pay for spray painting a storefront.
Clearly this is an attempt by Barr to vilify these protesters as anti-American and to reframe their protests against local law enforcement and Donald Trump as attacks on the United States of America.
This is an extremely ugly abuse of power, but of course, the Trump supporters will eat it up with a spoon.
Barr also took aim at his own federal prosecutors.
Courtesy of NPR:
Attorney General Bill Barr blasted his own Justice Department prosecutors as a “permanent bureaucracy” that all too often abuse their power to go after high-profile targets in a process he likened to “headhunting.”
In remarks Wednesday to a largely conservative audience celebrating Constitution Day at Hillsdale College, the leader of the Justice Department asserted that he’s the one who should make the big calls in cases of national interest.
“The notion that line prosecutors should make the final decisions at the Department of Justice is completely crazy,” Barr said.
“Under the law, all prosecutorial power is vested in the attorney general. And these people are agents of the attorney general. As I say to FBI agents, ‘Whose agent do you think you are?’ Now, I don’t say this in a pompous way, but that is the chain of authority and legitimacy in the Department of Justice.”
Barr didn’t mention particular prosecutions, but he’s faced steady criticism over his decisions to intervene in cases to help people close to President Trump, including longtime political adviser Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Some prosecutors have quit in response to Barr’s interventions. Two current Justice employees testified last summer on Capitol Hill about political interference at a whistleblower hearing.
Clearly Barr is upset by the cases being brought against Trump’s buddies and the investigations into his business dealings.
Of course, this is never something that the Attorney General of the United States should be concerning himself with, however, we have never before had one who sees himself as the president’s personal defense lawyer instead of as a servant of the people.