Hirono Joins 9 Senators in Calling for Investigation into US Attorney General

November 5, 2019, 3:28 PM HST (Updated November 5, 2019, 3:28 PM)
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Sen. Mazie Hirono has joined nine senate Democrats urging the US Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to investigate whether Attorney General William Barr abused the power of his office.

The senators expressed concern that Barr used his position to pursue a politically motivated investigation to undermine the Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help elect Donald Trump, according to a press release from Hirono’s office.

“We write regarding the troubling reporting that the investigation Attorney General William Barr launched into the origins of the government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has shifted to a criminal inquiry. White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney recently tied this investigation to the Trump Ukraine matters, indicating that military aid to Ukraine had been withheld, in part, to pressure Ukraine to cooperate with the investigation,” the Senators wrote. “This raises significant questions about whether Attorney General Barr is using the weighty powers of the Justice Department to further the President’s personal and political goals, instead of fairly and impartially administering justice. In light of these concerns, we respectfully request that the Office of Professional Responsibility immediately begin investigations of these issues.”

In their letter to the OPR’s Acting Director and Chief Counsel Jeffrey Ragsdale, the senators specifically call for investigations into:

  • Whether Attorney General Barr’s actions in initiating and conducting a now criminal probe into the origins of the Russia investigation, including closely overseeing it and personally participating in it, were appropriate and consistent with ethical rules and Department of Justice policies and practices.
  • Whether anyone in the White House or an associate of the President has communicated with Attorney General Barr about his decision to initiate the investigation or the way in which he is conducting the investigation, and whether such communications are appropriate and consistent with ethical rules and Department of Justice policies and practices.
  • Whether Attorney General Barr’s inquiry includes criminally investigating Justice Department employees; whether such investigations have been properly reported to the Office of the Inspector General, as required under 28 C.F.R. § 45.11; and whether these criminal investigations have proper legal and factual predicates.
  • Whether the fact that Attorney General Barr is named as a potential participant in the President’s efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his political opponents warrants the Attorney General’s recusal for any matters involving investigations into the origins of the Russia investigation, including efforts to engage Ukraine in these investigations.
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Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also signed the letter.

A signed PDF of the letter can be downloaded here.

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