Bob Christie / AP
Updated at 8:22 ET
Attorney General Bill Barr blew up his own prosecutors from the Department of Justice as a “permanent bureaucracy” that all too often abuses their power to go after high-profile targets in a process he likened to “headhunting.”
In remarks Wednesday to a largely conservative audience celebrating Constitution Day at Hillsdale College, the Attorney General’s Chief claimed that he was the one to make the big calls in case of national interest.
“The notion that line prosecutors should make the final decisions at the Department of Justice is completely crazy,” Barr said.
“By law, all prosecution is vested in the Attorney General. And these people are agents of the Attorney General. As I say to FBI agents, ‘whose agent do you think you are?’ Now, I am not saying this in a pompous way, but it is the chain of authority and legitimacy in the Ministry of Justice. “
Barr did not specifically mention prosecution, but he faces constant criticism over his decisions to intervene in cases to help people close to President Trump, including longtime political adviser Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Some prosecutors have held up in response to Barr’s intervention. Two current justice officials testified last summer on Capitol Hill about political interference at a whistle-blower hearing.
The Attorney General saved most of his ire for his own row of the Department of Justice. At one point, he compared junior prosecutors to children in kindergarten.
“Letting the most junior members set the agenda may be a good philosophy for a Montessori kindergarten, but it’s no way to run a federal agency,” Barr said.
Later, in arguing for more “detachment” from his accusers, Barr referred to lines from CS Lewis, who often wrote on religious themes: “‘It may be better to live under robber barons than under almighty morally busy bodies,'” Barr said. “‘The cruelty of the robber baron can sometimes sleep, his compartmentalism may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us endlessly, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They can be more likely to go to heaven and yet at the same time more likely to create hell on earth. ‘”
During a question-and-answer period following his formal remarks, Barr reiterated his concerns about voting with the post in the November presidential race and reiterated the president’s unfounded allegations of possible fraud without providing evidence other than “common sense.”
Barr took a touch on the legal skills of former employees of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election and whose report detailed how the Trump campaign welcomed this interference.
In response to a question about religious services and freedoms during the coronavirus pandemic, Barr said this about the idea of national Covid-19 lockdowns: “Apart from slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the largest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
He later turned to the Black Lives Matter movement. “They are not interested in black lives. They are interested in props, a small number of blacks being killed by the police during conflicts with the police – usually less than a dozen a year – which they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda. “