Ethics groups accuse AG Barr of misusing office, call for impeachment inquiry

A pair of government ethics groups on Monday called for lawmakers to launch an impeachment inquiry into U.S. Attorney General William Barr, accusing him of using his office to promote President Donald Trump’s political goals and undermining public confidence in the Justice Department.

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In a 267-page report published Monday, the Center for Ethics and Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said Barr’s “authoritarian worldview limits the degree to which Mr. Barr regards himself as bound by the rule of law and makes him see himself as entitled to ignore the laws, ethics and historical practices that have helped to ensure that the work of the Department is in line with the values of a democratic nation.”

>> Read the report from CERL and CREW

The groups found that Barr used the power of his office to support Trump’s political objectives, pointing to several instances, including his mischaracterization of the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

>> Related: Robert Mueller says his investigation did not exonerate Trump

In a 448-page report submitted to the Justice Department in 2019, Mueller highlighted nearly a dozen instances in which he thought Trump might have obstructed justice. The incidents included Trump’s May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, who said he felt Trump tried to pressure him into dropping the bureau’s investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

>> Related: What were the 10 Trump actions Mueller spotlighted for potential obstruction?

In a letter to Congress, U.S. Attorney General William Barr subsequently said Mueller’s investigation identified “no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct.” Trump has denied any wrongdoing, lambasting the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi previously said she would not initiate impeachment proceedings against Barr, telling the Washington Post in June that the decision would come down to voters in November.