The Slatest

Assistant U.S. Attorney: Barr “Has Brought Shame” on Justice Department

U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens during a discussion with state attorneys general on Protecting Consumers from Social Media Abuses in the Cabinet Room of the White House on September 23, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr listens during a discussion with state attorneys general on Protecting Consumers from Social Media Abuses in the Cabinet Room of the White House on September 23, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Pool/Getty Images

A current federal prosecutor has spoken up publicly against Attorney General Bill Barr, saying he “has brought shame” on the Department of Justice. James Herbert, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts wrote a letter published in the Boston Globe saying he wanted to speak out against the “unprecedented politicization of the office of the attorney general.” ABC News confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

The letter is significant because even though several former officials have spoken up against Barr, it is highly unusual for a current federal prosecutor to criticize the attorney general publicly. In the letter, Herbert made sure to emphasize he was only speaking for himself. “While I am a federal prosecutor, I am writing to express my own views, clearly not those of the department, on a matter that should concern all citizens: the unprecedented politicization of the office of the attorney general,” Herbert said. “The attorney general acts as though his job is to serve only the political interests of Donald J. Trump. This is a dangerous abuse of power.”

In the letter, Herbert suggests the final straw that led him to break protocol and speak out publicly was Barr’s speech at Hillsdale College earlier this month. During the speech, Barr harshly criticized his own Justice Department and its workers, claiming they were often motivated by politics and went “headhunting” for high-profile targets. While speaking at the conservative-leaning school, Barr dismissed those who say he is too personally involved in cases involving Trump. “What exactly am I interfering with?” he asked. “Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general.”

Herbert cited several instances in which Barr has shown he is more interested in making the president happy than seeking justice. “From his misleading summary of the Mueller Report, to his selective intervention in cases against political allies of the president, to his accusation that victims such as George Floyd are being used as mere ‘props’ by those calling for racial justice, to his baseless claims about mail-in ballots, William Barr has done the president’s bidding at every turn,” Herbert wrote. “For 30 years I have been proud to say I work for the Department of Justice, but the current attorney general has brought shame on the department he purports to lead.”