House and Senate Democrats have opened up a two-front effort to convince the Justice Department watchdog to open an investigation into the agency following its stunning decision Thursday to drop the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In a letter Friday, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse urged the agency's Inspector General Michael Horowitz to "immediately" examine the department's "pattern of politicized decision making." In a separate letter, House Judiciary Committee members similarly pushed Horowitz to investigate a "pattern of misconduct" by Attorney General William Barr.
In addition to the sudden reversal in the Flynn case, Judiciary Democrats, led by chairman Jerry Nadler, cited a handful of questionable matters, including:
- March 24, 2019, Barr's mischaracterization of the Mueller probe conclusions
- July 17, 2019, the department quietly ending the investigation into campaign finance violations committed by Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen
- February 11, 2020, the department abruptly seeking a more lenient sentence for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone
- March 16, 2020, the department suddenly dropping its two-year prosecution of a Russian company alleged to have interfered in the 2016 presidential election and charged with conspiring to defraud the United States.
"And these are merely instances related to the Attorney General’s work to undermine the findings of the Special Counsel," wrote Judiciary Democrats, adding that the department's leadership has also taken "extraordinary steps" in many other cases to protect Trump's allies and punish his enemies. "In our view, these cases represent a systematic breakdown of impartial justice at the Department of Justice and suggest overt political bias, if not outright corruption," they concluded.
Sens. Blumenthal and Whitehouse added, “This politicization of the Justice Department cannot be allowed to continue without scrutiny."
Barr has undoubtedly turned the department into a tool of political weaponry for rewarding Trump's allies, fighting his perceived enemies, and oppressing justice. Whether Horowitz decides to do anything about that remains to be seen.