By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) Attorney General William Barr managed to accomplish something this week that is very rare in divided Washington.
He sparked bipartisan outrage over a proposal to dramatically — and unconstitutionally — expand the Justice Department’s power to indefinitely confine people during the coronavirus emergency.
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The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the United States.
Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions.
The news site went on to claim that President Donald Trump has already used the coronavirus-related national emergency declaration “for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could deploy right now to try to slow the coronavirus outbreak.”
Apples to oranges. The border restrictions are necessary and proper given that the president has also ordered travel bans and cross-border restrictions on both Canada and Mexico.
What Barr is asking for, however, is much more. And much worse. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution expressly prohibits the suspension of habeas corpus “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
The response was swift, negative, and bipartisan.
If this is a joke, it’s not funny.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) March 21, 2020
Two Words: Hell No. https://t.co/AGlo7cz20i
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) March 22, 2020
Meanwhile, as Barr seems uniquely interested in expanding the powers of his Justice Department in an exploitative manner during the coronavirus outbreak, we have to ask him a question: What is going on with all of those criminal referrals Republican lawmakers have sent to the DoJ over the past two years related to blatant, obvious violations of law?
— In April 2018 we reported that a criminal referral had been sent to DoJ against fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for lying to federal investigators (the crime Michael Flynn was charged with and convicted for). We know what Barr did with this one: He refused to prosecute.
— In October 2018, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) made the a criminal referral to DoJ for porn lawyer Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick for allegedly lying to Congress regarding her allegations that Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in high school, helped drug girls so they could be gang-raped. Disposition: Unknown, though Avenatti’s been convicted by the Feds for trying to shake down Nike.
— In November 2018, Grassley sent a second criminal referral to DoJ regarding the Kavanaugh crap show put on by Democrats trying to derail his nomination. He referred Judy Munro-Leighton to the DoJ for an investigation into alleged violations of making materially false statements to the committee as well as obstructing the panel’s probe into the allegations against the new justice. Disposition: Unknown.
— In April 2019 Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) prepared several criminal referrals on, among other things, the FBI’s purposeful tanking of the Hillary probe. Disposition: Unknown.
— In May 2019, a group of House Republicans sent a criminal referral to DoJ for Nellie Ohr, wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, over her role in Spygate. According to emails, Nellie Ohr regularly sent “open-source intelligence” to not only her husband but also to several of his colleagues as well, including at least three DOJ prosecutors: Lisa Holtyn, Ivana Nizich and Joseph Wheatley. This “raises questions of both conflict of interest and possible false testimony,” The Hill‘s John Solomon wrote. Disposition: Unknown.
Meanwhile, fired FBI Director James Comey has also been let off the hook for allegedly lying to federal investigators…by Barr.
And while several other FBI operatives have been fired over their involvement in Spygate, Bruce Ohr remains at DoJ and nobody has been charged with any crimes that include lying to Congress and federal agents, defrauding the FISA Court, and literally plotting to overthrow a duly elected president.
We’ve also yet to see any results from the criminal investigation into the origins of the Russiagate hoax being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Durham, though Barr says it is continuing despite the coronavirus outbreak.
The question is…why?
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