AG WiIliam Barr Requiring Approval For Any Investigation Into 2020 Candidates
Attorney General William Barr said in a memo that all investigations into 2020 presidential candidates must involve top Justice Department officials to ensure “this fall’s elections are conducted in a fair manner that is free from inappropriate influences.”
The memo was issued on the same day that President Donald Trump was acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The abuse of power charge alleged he had inappropriately tried to pressure Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden.
It is the strongest response to the Inspector General’s report from December that found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” in the FBI’s applications to surveil ex-Trump adviser Carter Page.
The attorney general has been a vocal skeptic of the FBI’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the election, going as far as launching a criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI’s inquiry.
In July 2016, Comey said in a statement that the FBI had concluded its investigation into the email scandal and was referring the case to the State Department with the recommendation “that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
He added, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
The email scandal continually plagued her campaign, and Trump played into the negative press coverage.
Barr indirectly referenced the emails in the memo saying, “In certain cases, the existence of a federal criminal or counterintelligence investigation, if it becomes known to the public, may have unintended effects on our elections.”
He added that while the department must respond “swiftly and decisively” to any threats to the fairness of an election, “we also must be sensitive to safeguarding the department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship.”
The requirements listed in the memo will be in effect for the 2020 elections. After the election, the department will review whether the changes were necessary.
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