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Attorney General Bill Barr at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in July 28. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr dismissed accusations of political interference in criminal cases involving figures connected to President Trump during a speech at Michigan's Hillsdale College Wednesday night.

Details: "What exactly am I interfering with? Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general," Barr said, per the Washington Post and CNN.

Why it matters: The Department of Justice inspector general's office is investigating Barr's role in the lighter sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress — after career prosecutors had recommended he serve seven to nine years in prison. The prosecutors resigned over the action.

What else he's saying: "Name one successful organization where the lowest level employees’ decisions are deemed sacrosanct. There aren’t any," Barr said to the conservative institution, per his prepared remarks.

  • "Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target. Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency. 
  • "Good leaders at the Justice Department — as at any organization — need to trust and support their subordinates. But that does not mean blindly deferring to whatever those subordinates want to do."

Go deeper

Nov 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump with Michael Flynn in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a former Russian ambassador.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped Tuesday night.

15 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.