Barr interferes when prosecutor wants evidence before charging protesters

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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On September 1, a federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Michael R. Sherwin, told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser that he can’t be expected to charge protesters for rioting without evidence of a crime. (That would be unconstitutional).

When local police arrested more than 40 alleged rioters in mid-August, they did so without presenting “any articulable facts linking criminal conduct to each individual arrested.” He wrote that they took similar actions over the weekend, taking 19 people into custody while presenting sufficient evidence to substantiate only one case.

“As I am sure you are aware, without some evidence to establish probable cause of a particular arrestee’s criminal conduct — e.g., a police officer’s observation or video footage of the alleged crime — we cannot bring federal charges,” Sherwin wrote. “Surely, by your comments, you are not suggesting that this Office skirt constitutional protections and due process.”

The Washington Post

Two days later, on September 3, Sherwin backs down from his position and informs D.C. officials that he will immediately begin bringing charges to some of those arrested.

What changed? William Barr stepped in.

At some point in those two days, Barr ordered a meeting with Sherwin, the D.C. chief of police, and other law enforcement officials, turning a local dispute into a top issue for the Justice Department.

The episode was an example of Mr. Barr’s approach to running the Justice Department under President Trump: an agenda that is squarely in line not only with the White House but also with the Trump campaign’s law-and-order platform and assertions that Democrats have made the United States less safe. Critics argued that the department’s norm of independence from politics, widely seen as an anticorruption measure that grew out of the post-Watergate era, was at risk…

Under Mr. Barr, the Justice Department is as close as it has been to the White House in a half-century, historians said. Not since John N. Mitchell steered the Nixon re-election effort from the fifth floor of the Justice Department has an attorney general wielded the power of the office to so bluntly serve a presidential campaign, they said.

The New York Times


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