Jan 9, 2020

NYC Bar Association urges Congress to investigate AG Bill Barr for partisanship

Bill Barr. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The New York City Bar Association sent a letter on Thursday urging Congress to investigate Attorney General Bill Barr for a "pattern of conduct" that it alleges "threatens public confidence in the fair and impartial administration of justice.”

Why it matters: It's a rare rebuke of a sitting attorney general by a bar association or comparable group. The New York City Bar Association is a voluntary legal association not involved in the licensing of attorneys.

What they're saying: The president of the bar association criticized the attorney general's public statements, saying he has disregarded "bedrock obligations for government lawyers,” including the duty to “avoid even the appearance of partiality and impropriety, and to avoid manifesting bias, prejudice, or partisanship in the exercise of official responsibilities."

  • The letter cited a speech Barr made to the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention in November, in which he claimed that "so-called progressives" were "engaged in a war to cripple by any means necessary a duly elected government."
  • In the same speech, Barr claimed that conservatives “tend to have more scruple over their political tactics” and are more committed to the rule of law.

Go deeper: Former AG Eric Holder says Bill Barr "is unfit to lead the Justice Department"

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that it's not clear whether any comparable bar associations have submitted similar requests to Congress and to clarify the NYC Bar Association's membership.

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2018 Barr memo counters Trump's claim that abuse of power is unimpeachable

William Barr. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A 2018 memo by now-Attorney General William Barr contradicts President Trump's legal argument that abuse of power is not alone an impeachable offense.

What we know: Barr issued the memo for the Justice Department and Trump's legal team while still in private practice. The 19-page document was written as Robert Mueller conducted his special investigation into whether Trump illegally interfered in the Russia probe.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020

Lev Parnas asks Bill Barr to recuse himself from his case

Lev Parnas arrives with his wife, Svetlana Parnas, at federal court on Dec. 2 in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Lawyers for Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, filed a request in a New York federal court Monday for Attorney General Bill Barr to recuse himself from overseeing his criminal case.

Details: Parnas, who is facing campaign finance charges, claimed there were conflicts of interest, as he said it's in "the public interest to remove this matter entirely from the Department of Justice." Axios has contacted the DOJ for comment.

Barr scoffs at White House's anti-Huawei 5G approach

Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Attorney General William Barr on Thursday dismissed a new White House-led effort to build 5G using homegrown equipment and said the government should instead consider investing in Nokia or Ericsson to counter the threat of Huawei dominating the next-generation networks.

The big picture: While the Trump administration broadly agrees about the need to develop a clear and cohesive 5G policy and keep Chinese equipment out of the forthcoming networks, there has been widespread disagreement about how to get there.