CNN aghast at ‘politically charged’ DOJ ordering prosecutors to support effort against sanctuary cities

(Department of Justice)

CNN ran a report Saturday raising concerns over Department of Justice prosecutors, who are employees of the federal government, being asked by the Department of Justice, which is their employer, to promote both the department’s agenda and President Donald Trump’s agenda …

“In the past two weeks, the Justice Department has twice ordered US attorney’s offices around the country to participate in what some of them perceive as politically charged actions, according to people familiar with the matter,” the outlet reported in breathtaking fashion.

“First, the department ordered prosecutors to hold news conferences, make statements and use social media to promote [Attorney General Bill] Barr’s initiative to crack down on ‘sanctuary cities,’ according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The Justice Department later retracted the demand, the person said. Still, at least two US attorneys wrote op-eds.”

It’s not entirely clear why it’d be inappropriate for employees of the federal government to be asked by the federal government to promote the federal government’s legally based policies, such as its crackdown on illegal sanctuary cities.

“The department also instructed federal prosecutors to write op-eds to push for passage of pending legislation on fentanyl,” CNN’s report continued. “More than a dozen US attorneys complied with publishing op-eds or written statements. The person said that historically prosecutors have been instructed to avoid commenting on pending legislation. ”

While the anonymous “person’s” claim may be valid, it’s not clear whether it’s illegal or unethical for prosecutors to comment on pending legislation.

Rules do certainly exist, however, barring prosecutors from making comments that would affect the impartiality of an ongoing trial.

Federal prosecutors are nevertheless allowed to write columns.

Two years ago, Oregon-based U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams penned a column for The Oregonian criticizing then-AG Jeff Sessions’ policy decisions on marijuana.

Three years before that, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — the top prosecutor in the entire Obama administration — wrote a piece for The Washington Post touting the administration’s “community policing” policies.

“Elsewhere, in Connecticut, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, the US attorney’s offices have picked up investigations that are in line with what the President has wanted, looking into the origins of the investigation into the 2016 election, examining the Ukraine dealings of the son of Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and reviewing the Michael Flynn prosecution,” CNN added.

That the DOJ is investigating those matters important to Trump suggests that Attorney General Bill Barr is taking loyally certain orders from the president. If true, this would be neither unprecedented nor unusual.

After all, former Attorney General Eric Holder was never criticized by the media for his disturbing, overzealous loyalty to then-President Barack Hussein Obama during his 2009-2015 tenure in the DOJ.

“I’m still enjoying what I’m doing, there’s still work to be done. I’m still the President’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy. So we’ll see,” he said during a radio show interview in 2013.

The remarks triggered no recriminations from the media:

CNN’s concerns about the DOJ’s allegedly “politically charged actions” are part of a wider report on the alleged “outrage and ease” some federal prosecutors have felt ever since Barr intervened in the case of former Trump campaign official Roger Stone and the four prosecutors originally on the case withdrew from it.

“[T]he Stone situation has reverberated across the country in the past few days, with prosecutors incensed over the apparent intervention by Attorney General William Barr to lighten the sentencing recommendation for Trump’s ally, along with fear of what some perceive as a growing political directive coming from Washington,” the outlet reported.

“On the West Coast, one federal prosecutor said there was an overwhelming sense of ‘outrage’ felt in his office. A prosecutor on the East Coast voiced concern about the potential impact of political interference on juries and judges, who could perceive that cases aren’t being brought objectively.”

None of these upset prosecutors were named in the piece. Nor was any information included regarding Barr’s interview late last week with ABC News.

During that interview, the AG revealed that he’d expressed to the original prosecutors his concerns about the “excessive” nine-year sentence they’d been seeking for Stone. But after news broke late Monday that the prosecutors were moving forward with the nine-year recommendation anyway, Barr vowed to take action.

“I was very surprised,” he said to ABC News. “And once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night, to my staff, that we had to get ready cause we had to do something in the morning to amend that and clarify what our position was.”

But before he could actually take action, the president posted the following tweet:

Because of the timing of the tweet, which Trump dropped before Barr’s team could formally take action, congressional Democrats and their media allies began accusing Barr of being Trump’s toadie and thus a political hack.

And according to CNN’s anonymous sources, many federal prosecutors across the country seem to share this outlook …

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Vivek Saxena

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