Eman Mohammed for NPR
Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that he did not believe President Trump had crossed the border between the White House and the Department of Justice in a number of recent big cases.
Barr told NPR in a large interview that he believed Trump had “supervisory authority” to oversee the smooth running of justice – but Barr said that ultimately the choices were made and made independently by the Ministry of Justice.
“It is very important for the Attorney General to ensure that there is no political influence at stake – and there was none,” said Barr.
Steve Inskeep of NPR asked Barr about the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, in which the Department of Justice dropped the charges even after Flynn’s guilty plea; the dismissal of US Attorney Geoffrey Berman in New York; and on the others.
Barr criticized what he called “irregularities” in the Flynn case, which he said justified his solving the problem by dropping the charge. And he denied there was anything suspicious about the replacement for Berman, including any connection to ongoing investigations that may involve Trump associates.
“Whenever you make a personnel move, conspiracy theorists will suggest that there is a hidden motive involved,” said Barr.
Unconfirmed Theory of Mail Fraud
Barr also defended his recent comments in which he claimed without evidence that foreign countries could potentially forge “millions” of ballots to interfere with the presidential race in November.
This is an assertion that a number of election officials and experts have dismissed, calling it “absurd” and “false.” State officials from both sides have lobbied for better access to ballots in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But on Thursday, Barr doubled, calling the postal ballot security processes “primitive.”
When asked if he had evidence to suggest that such a plot was underway by foreign opponents, the Attorney General replied that he did not, but that his department had evidence that foreign countries were interested in the interference wider – and that he thought postal voting was an obvious target.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand this,” said Barr.
Skeptics among election officials say dozens of aspects of each jurisdiction’s ballots would have to be replicated for an attack of this nature to work: from barcodes, to paperweight, to successful falsification of signatures voters.
“It shows a fundamental lack of understanding of election administration nut soup,” said Paul Gronke, professor of political science at Reed College. “You can’t just get the paper, recreate the voting styles, fake the signatures, on any mass scale. ”
Barr, who voted by mail in 2019 and 2012, according to the Washington Post, said that he supported postal voting in isolated situations but did not think that a large expansion would be possible without fraud and significant errors. . Most election officials disagree.
“Election officials spend a lot of our time tightening security measures,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Republican, said this week about Barr’s statements. “The idea that people could print millions of ballots inside or outside the country, right on his face, is not going to be heard with an election official. ”
Fears about Antifa
Barr also defended his thesis on Thursday that the recent protests against police brutality against black Americans have been infiltrated and invaded by antifa agitators.
Barr and Trump have repeatedly painted antifa as a far-left criminal anarchist organization, blaming supporters for certain cases of violence and looting during recent demonstrations of police responsibility.
NPR report found no sign of antifa ties so far in Justice Ministry cases, but Barr reiterated Thursday that antifa is more of a “generic term” and that self-identified protesters as antifa were allegedly charged with specific actions like throwing a Molotov cocktail.
The attorney general also defended the police as part of the ongoing protest movement against law enforcement in black communities.
“The statistics on police shootings by unarmed individuals are not skewed towards the African American,” he said. “There are a lot of white people who are gunned down by the police. “
On the coronavirus pandemic, Barr again criticized state governors for implementing strict mitigation protocols to slow the spread of the virus, accusing these leaders of abusing their power and compromising people’s livelihoods.
“Basically, put the whole population under house arrest and tell people that they have to close their livelihoods and their businesses. And they leave that up to the discretionary decision of the governors, “said Barr.
Barry Gordemer, Connor Donevan, Courtney Dorning and Matt Kwong produced and edited the audio version of this story.