AG Barr Attacks Impeachment Inquiry – Handicaps Witnesses

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Attorney General {AG} William Barr has changed the Justice Department in ways not seen since President Richard Nixon was in office. Attorney General John Mitchell was indicted on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury in 1974. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 to eight years in prison, according to Britannica. Just saying. So what is Barr up to now?

The AG just sent a legal volley into the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry camp. His memo claimed that Congress had to let government attorneys go with Executive Branch witnesses. Barr’s people claimed anyone who testified about Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine must be further hampered.

The DOJ just released:

‘[A] five-page memo argues that congressional subpoenas that ask witnesses to appear without counsel are “legally invalid.’

In the new memo, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel’s Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said:

“[T]he assistance of agency counsel [is required because people may disclose information] protected by executive privilege.’

The House Intelligence Committee chaired by  Adam Schiff has been at the tip of the inquiry spear. Still, Mueller has been trying to further limit the House’s claim forbidding the presence of these attorneys,

The DOJ claimed it deprived Trump of his constitutional power of screening privileged information from the legislators. Many witnesses have already testified and brought their personal attorneys with them. What Barr was suggesting was the equivalent of people testifying about the company’s wrongdoing with the boss sitting right next to them.

The memo did not address the number of White House personnel who have simply not shown up to testify before the committee hearing after receiving a subpoena or an invitation to come before its members. Rather than pursue these individuals throughout the court system, Schiff just decided to add a charge of obstruction of justice to the tally.’

As if by edict, the DOJ decreed:

‘Congressional committees participating in an impeachment inquiry may not validly compel executive branch witnesses to testify about matters that potentially involve information protected by executive privilege without the assistance of agency counsel. Congressional subpoenas that purport to require executive branch witnesses to appear without agency counsel in these circumstances are legally invalid and are not subject to civil or criminal enforcement.’

Barr’s Department of Justice’s memo continued:

‘The [House Intelligence Committee] could address this separation of powers problem by allowing agency counsel to assist the employee during the deposition. Should the committee not do so, however, a subpoena purporting to require a witness to appear without such assistance would be invalid and not subject to civil or criminal enforcement.’

The memo referred to the House of Representative Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI)’s interest. However, Barr’s people argued:

‘The Executive Branch also has legitimate interests

The memo said that the HPSCI could “establish an interest:”

‘The Department of Justice indicated that even though the HPSCI could “establish an interest justifying its requests for information, the Executive Branch also has legitimate interests in confidentiality, too.’

Thus far, no House Democrat has responded to Barr’s memo.

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