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Attorney General William Barr chooses not to speak as President Donald Trump participates in a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Warnings DOJ Has Become 'Vehicle for President Trump's Political Revenge' as Barr Opens Criminal Probe of Mueller Investigation

"It was bad enough Trump and Barr were wasting resources on this. But now they are fully weaponizing DOJ for political purposes."

Jake Johnson

Raising fresh concerns that President Donald Trump is weaponizing the Justice Department for his own political and personal gain, Attorney General William Barr's "administrative review" of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe—which resulted in the conviction of a number of Trump associates—has reportedly become a criminal investigation.

The New York Times, citing two anonymous individuals familar with the matter, reported late Thursday that the shift from an administrative review to a criminal probe "gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges."

"Mr. Barr, recall that Attorney General John Mitchell spent 19 months in prison for his role in the Watergate conspiracy. Be prepared to meet the same or worse fate."
—Robert Reich

"It was not clear what potential crime Mr. Durham is investigating, nor when the criminal investigation was prompted," according to the Times. Barr appointed Durham in May to investigate the "origins" of the Russia probe.

Lawmakers and legal experts reacted with alarm to the Times report, which was confirmed by other outlets and comes amid an intensifying impeachment inquiry into Trump over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

"These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump's political revenge," tweeted Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. "If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the president with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage."

CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said "it was bad enough Trump and Barr were wasting resources on this."

"But now they are fully weaponizing DOJ for political purposes," Honig added. "Attorneys general can be impeached."

In an interview on CNN Thursday night, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said Barr is "absolutely" acting as Trump's personal lawyer rather than attorney general of the United States in his investigation of the Mueller inquiry.

"It is deeply troubling what Bill Barr is doing," Lieu said.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, Barr has held talks with foreign intelligence officials in Italy and the United Kingdom to request assistance in his probe of the Mueller investigation—news that prompted calls for House Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings against the attorney general.

In response to Thursday's reports, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich tweeted, "Mr. Barr, recall that Attorney General John Mitchell spent 19 months in prison for his role in the Watergate conspiracy."

"Be prepared to meet the same or worse fate," Reich wrote.


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EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Zero Tolerance for Corruption': Grijalva, Porter Demand Answers on Alleged Trump Pardon Bribery Scheme

The Democrats believe a real estate developer donated to a Trump-aligned super PAC in exchange for the pardons of two other men.

Julia Conley ·


Millions of Americans Lack Adequate Health Coverage, But the Pentagon Has a New Nuclear Bomber to Flaunt

"This ominous death machine, with its price tag of $750 million a pop, brings huge profits to Northrop Grumman but takes our society one more step down the road of spiritual death," peace activist Medea Benjamin said of the new B-21 Raider.

Brett Wilkins ·


Betrayal of Railway Workers Ignites Working-Class Fury Toward Biden and Democrats

"Politicians are happy to voice platitudes and heap praise upon us for our heroism throughout the pandemic," said one rail leader. "Yet when the steel hits the rail, they back the powerful and wealthy Class 1 rail carriers every time."

Jessica Corbett ·


With GOP House Control Looming, Pascrell Calls for Swift Release of Trump Tax Records

"Donald Trump tried to hide his tax returns from our oversight but after 1,329 days we have finally obtained the documents," said the New Jersey Democrat. "We should review and release them."

Kenny Stancil ·

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