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For Abuse of Office and Covering for Trump, Watchdog Group Files Formal DOJ Complaint Against AG William Barr

"The attorney general has acted in biased ways and violated Justice Department norms, standards, and rules to protect President Trump at the expense of fulfilling his responsibilities to provide fair and impartial administration of justice."

Attorney General William Barr chooses not to speak as President Donald J. Trump participates in a ceremony to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin Meese III in the Oval Office at the White House on Tuesday, Oct 08, 2019. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr chooses not to speak as President Donald J. Trump participates in a ceremony to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin Meese III in the Oval Office at the White House on Tuesday, Oct 08, 2019. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The nonpartisan government oversight group Democracy 21 on Friday filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against Attorney General William Barr, calling for a formal investigation and "remedial action" over accusations that Barr has failed to comply with "norms, rules and standards of conduct" while overseeing President Donald Trump's DOJ.

"Attorney General Barr has repeatedly abused his office to provide cover for President Trump," said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, in a statement. "[Barr] has acted in biased ways and violated Justice Department norms, standards and rules to protect President Trump at the expense of fulfilling his responsibilities to provide fair and impartial administration of justice."

According to the complaint (pdf):

The improper actions by Attorney General Barr cover a wide range of his statements and activities but all result from a single overriding impropriety: the Attorney General has eschewed the core mission of the Department of Justice "to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans."

Attorney General Barr has instead repeatedly demonstrated bias in acting to protect the personal and political interests of President Trump, as opposed to protecting the interests of the American people. He has done this to the detriment of the country and in derogation of the mission and integrity of the Department he heads.

Since taking over the Department of Justice last year, Barr has been repeatedly criticized for running the DOJ in a partisan manner—blurring the lines of separation that have long existed between the Justice Department and the White House.

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In a move last week described as "unprecedented," the New York City Bar Association sent a letter to congressional leaders that also called for a probe into Barr's handling of various matters related to Trump.

"We have significant concerns about the propriety of Mr. Barr's recent actions and statements," the letter stated. "We urge Congress to exercise its constitutional obligations by expeditiously commencing formal inquiries into Mr. Barr's conduct."

In his statement, Wertheimer accused Barr of "improper attacks on the investigations of DOJ Special Counsel Mueller and DOJ Inspector General Horowitz," and for making "unjustified and unsubstantiated claims to protect" Trump during the inquiry process regarding Ukraine that ultimately led to his impeachment. 

Barr, he said, "failed to recuse himself from the Ukraine whistleblower matter involving the president in which Barr was directly implicated by Trump. Attorney General Barr is doing enormous damage to the integrity and credibility of the Justice Department he leads. It is the responsibility of the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Departmental Ethics Office to hold Barr accountable for his repeated improper actions."

Directed to Jeffrey R. Ragsdale, head of the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility, and Cynthia K. Shaw, the DOJ director of the Departmental Ethics Office, the complaint states that "Because you are responsible for safeguarding the institutional integrity of the Justice Department and the standards of behavior that govern its officials, Attorney General Barr's pattern of improper behavior warrants investigation and appropriate remedial action by your offices."

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