In a letter to the agency's inspector general, more than 1,250 former career employees and political appointees in the Justice Department have asked for an investigation of Attorney General William Barr's role in the clearing of protesters in Lafayette Square last week. The letter expressed concern over Barr's "possible role in ordering law enforcement personnel to suppress a peaceful domestic protest," the Washington Post reports, so that President Trump could "walk across the street from the White House and stage a photo op at St. John’s Church"—an event it called politically motivated. The group, consisting mostly of former prosecutors, lawyers and supervisors who served in administrations of both parties, called on Michael Horowitz to open an investigation immediately.
Barr has been criticized by civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers since the area was cleared using batons, gas and rubber bullets. Officials have said Barr gave the order. The letter questioned the use of federal forces in Washington against the protesters, per CNN. "We have profound doubts that the personnel deployed from these agencies are adequately trained in policing mass protests or protecting the constitutional rights of individuals who are not subject to arrest or have not been convicted of a crime," it said. The attorney general has said the protesters were moved away because they were becoming "increasingly unruly," not so Trump could walk to the church. (Barr is named in a civil rights lawsuit over the clearing.)