The New York City Bar Association has asked Congress to open an investigation into alleged misconduct and bias by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
In a letter, the organization said that Barr’s recent actions and comments “threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.”
The 24,000-member organization sent its letter Thursday, asking lawmakers “to commence formal inquiries into a pattern of conduct” by the attorney general that they claim positions the Department of Justice (DOJ) as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.”
The bar association listed a number of public statements Barr made in the latter half of 2019, claiming the comments were “troubling” and inconsistent with the role of the the attorney general.
The group accused Barr of violating the “bedrock obligations for government lawyers” to “avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice, or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities.”
The association’s members also accused Barr of launching “a partisan attack” against “‘so-called progressives’ for supposedly waging a ‘campaign to destroy the traditional moral order.'”
The group also said it was concerned about a television interview conducted on Dec. 10, 2019, where Barr disputed Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s findings that were released in a report the day before indicating the FBI wasn’t acting on an improper political motivation when it surveilled Trump’s campaign staffer Carter Page for about a year.
During that interview, Barr said the bureau may have acted in “bad faith” when it launched the investigation against President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The AG said that there were “gross abuses … and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.”
Barr has asked U.S. Attorney John Durham to run a separate investigation which has turned into a criminal probe of the origins of the Russian collusion investigation called “Crossfire Hurricane.”
In an interview last May, Barr responded to criticism saying that he believes the “hyper-partisan age” Americans live in has caused people to “no longer really pay attention to the substance of what is said” but “only to who says it and what side they’re on and what its political ramifications are.”
“The Department of Justice is all about the law, the facts, and the substance and I’m going to make the decisions based on the law and the facts,” he told CBS News.
“And I realize that is in tension with the political climate we live in because people are more interested in getting their way politically, so I think it just goes with the territory of being the attorney general in a hyper-partisan period of time.”