Former Attorney General Eric Holder thinks a “political line” has been crossed by current Attorney General Bill Barr in the probe into the origins of the Russia investigation.
The self-described “wingman” for former President Obama told a Fox News reporter that Barr “is paying a price” and has affected the reputation of the Justice Department in his actions which, he contended, are more like those of a personal attorney for President Trump.
(Video: Fox News)
“The whole thing that the attorney general is involved in is highly unusual,” Holder said. “Ordering an investigation of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies when there was already an investigation underway by the inspector general.”
Holder’s comments followed a report in The New York Times that Australia’s leader had been asked by Trump privately to assist Barr in the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham of potential misconduct at the launch of the Russia probe. But it was actually Australia that had offered assistance back in May, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.
“And then to see how the president is now involved in trying to help the attorney general in that effort gives me pause,” Holder added Tuesday.
“I think the attorney general needs to be a little more sensitive to the appearance that that gives. You have to not only be substantively neutral — you have to appear to be neutral when you are the attorney general of the United States,” he said with his usual lack of self-awareness.
“And I fear that he has crossed a political line,” Holder added.
Apparently, the nation’s first African-American attorney general forgot his own crossing of political lines with a scandal-ridden past that included being the only cabinet member in U.S. history at that time to be held in contempt of Congress.
The 68-year-old career prosecutor, who served under Obama for six years, refused to release documents to the House Oversight Committee that pertained to the failed Justice Department sting operation known as Fast and Furious which allowed approximately 2,000 weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected Mexican gun smugglers.
Holder was asked about the White House contention that it is routine procedure for any president to introduce the attorney general to the law enforcement agencies in other nations.
“I wouldn’t say it was standard but I wouldn’t say it was unprecedented,” Holder said.
“But involving the president in a Justice Department investigation is something that would be reserved for the most important investigations that the Justice Department would do — usually those that would have a direct impact on the national security,” he added. “More often than not, the contact with other governments goes from attorney general to the attorney general’s counterpart in the other country. You don’t involve heads of state in these matters unless the consequences are really significant.”
But officials both in the Trump administration and Australia have stressed that there was nothing unusual in the actions of Trump and Barr.
“Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the President has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the Attorney General and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Kerri Kupec, a DOJ spokeswoman, said in a statement.
“The countries have been helpful,” an administration source told Fox News. “There was no pressing required.”
“After the president said what he said — we initiated the contact. There was no pressure — we acted in order to help,” a senior Australian diplomat told Fox News.
But Holder did not believe Durham’s investigation warranted the more significant actions that have been taken.
“Again, the question I have for this new investigation is what does it do that the inspector general wasn’t already doing?” he asked.
“It seems to be this is duplicative in a lot of ways. And I think kind of unnecessary,” he added. “But, the attorney general has made that determination and I think is paying a price for it — both in terms of questioning whether he’s acting as the president’s lawyer as opposed to the attorney general, and then it has a negative impact on the Justice Department as well.”
Holder has been vocally critical of Barr on other occasions as well, attacking him in May because he claimed Barr “deliberately misrepresented the Mueller report.”
“He is not fit to lead DOJ,” Holder tweeted at the time.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) May 20, 2019
He also slammed the attorney general’s “conduct” and his “unacceptable” behavior during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this year.
Holder elaborated on the long-term effects that politicization has on the Justice Department, conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room as far as the conduct of the intelligence community under Obama’s watch.
“I think when people of this country look at the Justice Department and think it is in some ways politicized, that has a negative long-term impact on the department. FBI agents have to testify in trials all around this country, and to the extent a person looks at an FBI agent and thinks that person serves in a politicized agency, that could make a person — a juror for instance — think the FBI agent is not telling the truth, in a way we traditionally have,” he said.
Holder was asked if he thought the launch of an impeachment inquiry would be a help or have a negative impact for Democrats in races across the nation.
“I’m not sure that anyone can really gauge that,” Holder said. ” I’m not sure if this is going to help Democrats or hurt Democrats. But I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, slammed Holder’s criticism on Tuesday.
“Really, isn’t this a guy who came in and said ‘I am Barack Obama’s wingman’?” Rove said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” Tuesday.
“He said he’s concerned about the appearance of propriety,” Rove said. “This guy has no right whatsoever to lecture us about impartiality particularly on the part of an attorney general.”
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