U.S. Attorney General William Barr, despite promises made during his Senate confirmation hearing to be an independent voice for law and justice, has proven to be a perfect consigliere for a president of the United States who operates like a mob boss. Barr has intervened repeatedly to protect cronies of President Donald Trump who have run afoul of the law and has encouraged Trump’s most authoritarian impulses.
The A.G.’s skewed view of justice has been further exposed by a New York Times report that says Barr asked federal prosecutors to look into the possibility of prosecuting Mayor Jenny Durkan. Her crime? Allowing a protest zone to operate undisturbed for several weeks this summer in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. This follows comments from the president that branded Seattle, Portland and other cities caught up in ongoing protests against police violence against Black Americans as lawless places run by anarchists.
Besides eyeing the mayor for prosecution, Barr also expressed his eagerness to charge violent protesters with sedition, a crime that has been invoked to stifle dissent at various times throughout American history.
“Ultimately, this is not a story about me,” Durkan said in a formal response, but about “how this President and his Attorney General are willing to subvert the law and use the Department of Justice for political purposes.”
There is great irony in this attack on the mayor from the political right since she is currently the target of a recall effort driven by left-wing groups that accuse her of approving overly-aggressive police tactics against demonstrators. Durkan seems to be caught in a Goldilocks paradigm; Barr and Trump say she is too soft, activists say she is too hard and voters may conclude that she has done things just about right.
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