Mar 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DOJ emergency powers report raises ire among conservatives and liberals

Attorney General Bill Barr gives a speech in Washington, D.C., on March 6. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Republican and Democratic lawmakers reacted with concern Saturday to a Politico report that the Department of Justice is seeking new powers to ask judges to detain people indefinitely without trial in emergency situations.

The big picture: Politico reports the DOJ documents for Congress it reviewed "detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted." The unconfirmed report prompted Doug Stafford, the chief strategist for Rand Paul (R-Ky.), to tweet his agreement with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who criticized such a measure.

What they're saying: Several other members of Congress spoke out against the reported proposals, which come amid the novel coronavirus outbreak and include for Congress to grant Attorney General Bill Barr "power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings 'whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.'"

  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted, "OVER MY DEAD BODY."
  • Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) tweeted, "This is wrong and must not be allowed to happen."
  • Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) tweeted, "Congress must loudly reply NO."
  • Arizona state Sen. Martín Quezada (D) tweeted, "That would be a hard no."
  • Axios has contacted the DOJ for comment, along with the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), about the report.

Go deeper

Federal judge questions Barr's "candor" and "credibility" on Mueller report

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

D.C. District Judge Reggie Walton ordered Thursday the Justice Department to submit the full unredacted Mueller report for his review, stating that Attorney General Bill Barr's representations of the report prior to its release preclude him from accepting the Justice Department's redactions without "independent verification."

Why it matters: It's a rare instance of a federal judge, who filed the order as part of a freedom of information lawsuit by BuzzFeed News, calling into question the motives and impartiality of the attorney general in a politically explosive investigation.

Supreme Court allows Trump's full "Remain in Mexico" program to continue

President Trump at a rally in Phoenix in February. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images

The Supreme Court gave the Trump administration another immigration win on Wednesday, blocking a federal injunction that would have halted the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — or "Remain in Mexico" policy — in California and Arizona.

Why it matters: The Trump administration sent military troops to parts of the border ahead of the decision in order to prepare for any surges of migrants crossing the border if MPP was halted, per the New York Times.

KY congressman draws bipartisan ire for reported stimulus delay tactic

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to condemn Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) Friday for his reported attempt to delay the passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which he opposes.

What's happening: Congress had wanted to approve the measure by voice vote on Friday to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for members who had to travel back to D.C. But those plans changed late Thursday over concerns that Massie could force a roll-call vote, requiring at least 216 members present on the House floor, per NBC New York.