As the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr heads the Justice Department and presumably is quite knowledgeable about the rules involving exactly when federal prosecutors need to recuse themselves from a case in which they themselves may play a participatory role.
Now the New York City Bar Association is calling Attorney General Barr out on his failure to remove himself from the Department of Justice’s handling of any investigation stemming from Donald Trump’s ever-widening Ukraine scandal that the president himself implicated Barr as a participant in.
“The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has a unique role in safeguarding the rule of law under the Constitution. By failing to recuse himself from DOJ’s review of the Ukraine Matter, Attorney General William P. Barr has undermined that role,” the statement from the New York City Bar Association reads.
The Association is a voluntary group of lawyers and legal students with a mission “to equip and mobilize the legal profession to practice with excellence, promote reform of the law, and uphold the rule of law and access to justice in support of a fair society and the public interest in our community, our nation, and throughout the world,” according to its website. It was originally founded in 1870 in response to “growing public concern over corruption in the justice system in New York City,” an equally valid purpose today since the attacks on the independence of the federal justice system by the Trump administration.
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“Several of its early officers were active in seeking the removal of corrupt judges and in leading prosecutions of the notorious Tweed Ring. By the 1960s, the Association became an increasingly democratic organization, easing restrictions on membership and actively engaging in social issues,” according to the association’s account of its history.
The Association’s call for Barr’s recusal on all matters related to Ukraine includes its recommendations on how to proceed if he refuses to do so — impeachment and removal from office.
“To help remedy that failure, the New York City Bar Association urges that Mr. Barr recuse himself from any ongoing or future review by DOJ of Ukraine-related issues in which Mr. Barr is allegedly involved. If he fails to do so, he should resign or, failing that, be subject to sanctions, including possible removal, by Congress,” the Bar Association argued.
“His actions during his brief tenure in office have demonstrated to us that, contrary to the responsibilities of his office, he appears to view his primary obligation as loyalty to the President individually rather than to the nation. In serving the President, he has been willing to take or countenance actions that are contrary to the professional standards of the DOJ, his oath of office and his own obligations as an attorney,” their statement continued.
“Mr. Barr also was specifically mentioned by the President as a participant in the activity under investigation. Moreover, he appears to have participated in the DOJ review of the whistleblower’s complaint and its decision not to forward that complaint to Congress. That he failed to recuse himself from that review, and still has not yet (to our knowledge) recused himself from any ongoing DOJ review of other aspects of the Ukraine Matter, is a serious violation of his obligation to protect the DOJ from reasonable questions as to its impartiality in the investigation of the Ukraine Matter,” the Bar Association added.
The Association hopes that Barr will heed its advice to finally recuse himself.
“We hope that Mr. Barr will act promptly to remedy, at least in part, his prior failure to recuse himself from the Ukraine Matter. If, however, he chooses not to do so, we believe he must resign his position as Attorney General. If he fails either to recuse himself or to resign, Mr. Barr should be subject to appropriate Congressional sanctions, including possible removal from office, in order to restore the Office of the Attorney General and the DOJ to their historic roles as defender of the law on behalf of the American people,” the Association’s statement concluded.
Barring Barr’s recusal, the Bar association’s ban on Barr’s biased basis for betraying his constitutional bona-fides is beyond reproach.
While most Democrats will surely concur with the New York City Bar Association’s conclusions about the Attorney General, one message should be aimed directly at the GOP’s Congressional elephants: bar Barr from any future involvement in the Ukraine scandal investigations.
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Original reporting by Bob Brigham at RawStory.