POLITICS

NYC Bar Association Calls For Probe Of William Barr's 'Troubling Pattern Of Conduct'

The attorney general's behavior "threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice," the 24,000-member legal group said.

The New York City Bar Association is calling on Congress to investigate whether William Barr is too politically biased to fulfill his legal obligations as the nation’s attorney general. 

A letter from the 24,000-member organization released Thursday highlights controversial comments by Barr attacking “so-called progressives” and “social justice reformers” as evidence the attorney general and the Justice Department can’t be trusted to fairly enforce the law. The group also criticized Barr’s watered-down “mischaracterization” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump campaign’s links to Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

Barr’s “recent actions and statements position” him and “by extension, the United States Department of Justice, as political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others,” warned the letter to congressional leaders.

The letter appears to be the first time the city bar association or a comparable organization has ever called on House and Senate leaders to probe the conduct of a sitting attorney general, Bloomberg reported. 

Barr’s “troubing pattern of conduct ... threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice,” the letter said. His conduct is “inconsistent with the role of the Attorney General in our legal and constitutional system.”

The “duties to act impartially ... and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities are bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” the letter continued. “Mr. Barr has disregarded these fundamental obligations in several public statements during the past few months.”

The bar association highlighted Barr’s recent statements, include a comment at the University of Notre Dame in October lashing ”so-called progressives” for supposedly waging a “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.” His speech is now posted on the DOJ website.

In New Orleans in December, Barr attacked “district attorneys from large cities ‘who style themselves as social justice reformers ... letting criminals off the hook’” before a group of police officials. In a speech in November at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, he “again vilified ‘progressives’ and ‘the Left,’” the bar association letter said.

In a “troubling number of instances,” Barr has appeared to present himself as “narrowly” serving “certain segments of society,” including members of a certain religion or a political party, the letter concluded.

Barr could not immediately be reached for comment.

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