The New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to investigate Attorney General William P. Barr, saying he’s turned Justice Department prosecutors into “political partisans,” according to a letter released Thursday.
The letter, sent to the majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate, is believed to be the first time a bar association has asked Congress to investigate a sitting attorney general.
“Mr. Barr’s recent actions and statements position the Attorney General, 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,” the New York City Bar Association wrote.
The group said several recent public comments by Mr. Barr show a “disregard” for the impartiality his job demands.
The letter pointed to an October speech at the University of Notre Dame where Mr. Barr blasted “militant secularists” as a threat to religious liberty and “traditional moral order.”
The letter also highlighted a December speech in New Orleans in which Mr. Barr criticized leftist district attorneys, saying they undercut police efforts.
“The duties to act impartially, to avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities are bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” the New York City Bar Association wrote.
“Mr. Barr has disregarded these fundamental obligations in several public statements during the past few months,” the letter continued.
Roger Juan Maldonado, president of the association, and Stephen Klass, chairman of the association’s task force on the rule of law, say Congress should investigate whether any of Mr. Barr’s comments violated the law.
Last year, the New York City Bar Association demanded Mr. Barr recuse himself from any Justice Department matters involving the Trump administration’s ties to Ukraine, which is at the forefront of congressional impeachment proceedings.