Attorney General Bill Barr is not exactly earning many supporters during his time serving as a de facto political lackey for President Donald Trump. In the wake of his apparent involvement in a violent attack on peaceful protesters outside the White House on June 1, more than 1,250 former Justice Department employees have signed onto a letter asking the Justice Department’s inspector general Michael Horowitz to investigate the situation. The Trump administration has already proven that they’re sensitive to these investigations — after the State Department’s inspector general (Steve Linick) launched investigations of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump fired him.
Breaking via WaPo: More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers are calling on the DOJ internal watchdog to investigate A.G. Barr's involvement in law enforcement's move to push peaceful demonstrators back from Lafayette Square using horses and gas. https://t.co/bJPqfiQsS4
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 10, 2020
In their letter, which was put together by the nonprofit political advocacy group Protect Democracy, the over 1,250 former Justice Department employees wrote that they were “deeply concerned about the Department’s actions, and those of Attorney General William Barr himself, in response to the nationwide lawful gatherings to protest the systemic racism that has plagued this country throughout its history.” Video from the most controversial scene on June 1 immediately went viral; authorities can be seen deploying chemicals and other force against a group that, for the most part, was peaceful and had not provoked officers in the slightest.
The former Justice Department employees added:
‘In particular, we are disturbed by Attorney General Barr’s possible role in ordering law enforcement personnel to suppress a peaceful domestic protest in Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020, for the purpose of enabling President Trump to walk across the street from the White House and stage a photo op at St. John’s Church, a politically motivated event in which Attorney General Barr participated.’
In an apparent gross abuse of power, Trump held a photo op at a local church right after peaceful protesters were violently cleared from the area. Thus, the former Justice employees added, they want Horowitz to “immediately open and conduct an investigation of the full scope of the Attorney General’s and the DOJ’s role” in the attacks on peaceful protesters, because the “rule of law, the maintenance of the Department’s integrity, and the very safety of our citizens demand nothing less.”
Barr’s own explanations for the situation have been dubious at best. He’s claimed, for instance, that the decision to extend the “security perimeter” around the White House had actually been decided upon the day before the June 1 incident — and he’s also claimed that the June 1 crowd was “unruly,” as The Washington Post puts it. In reality, as video from the scene makes clear, the crowd was, by and large, simply peacefully protesting when officers, who Barr has acknowledged directing, attacked.
The June 1 incident in which the peaceful protesters were attacked is not alone among incidents in which the Trump administration’s response to protests has been criticized. The Trump team deployed a dizzying array of law enforcement personnel within D.C., some of whom were not even wearing anything that would identify what agency they were with and who refused to identify themselves when asked. In other words, the Trump team looks like they deployed a de facto secret police into the streets of the U.S.