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Barr Slams His Own Prosecutors as 'Headhunters'

He says they need to be reined in
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 17, 2020 12:12 AM CDT

(Newser) – Attorney General William Barr took aim at his own Justice Department on Wednesday night, criticizing prosecutors for behaving as “headhunters" in their pursuit of prominent targets and for using the weight of the criminal justice system to launch what he said were “ill-conceived” political probes. The comments at a speech at Hillsdale College in Michigan amounted to a striking, and unusual, rebuke of the thousands of prosecutors who do the daily work of assembling criminal cases across the country, the AP reports. Barr has faced scrutiny for overruling the decisions of Justice Department prosecutors who work for him, including in criminal cases involving associates of President Trump.

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Rejecting the notion that prosecutors should have final say in cases that they bring, Barr described them instead as part of the "permanent bureaucracy" and suggested they need to be supervised, and even reined in, by politically appointed leaders accountable to the president and Congress. “Individual prosecutors can sometimes become headhunters, consumed with taking down their target,” Barr said. “Subjecting their decisions to review by detached supervisors ensures the involvement of dispassionate decision-makers in the process.” He added: “Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it’s no way to run a federal agency."

(Read more William Barr stories.)

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