DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump

After nearly 40 years of working for the Department of Justice (DOJ), Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Halpern says he is “fleeing” the department over Attorney General William BarrBill BarrVirginia governor on alleged kidnapping plot: Trump’s rhetoric ’emboldening’ white supremacists The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Barrett touts independence to sidestep confirmation questions ‘Unmasking’ probe concludes without ‘finding any substantive wrongdoing’: report MORE‘s “slavish obedience to Donald Trump’s will.”

In an op-ed published Wednesday in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Halpern, who says he’s served under 19 attorneys general and six presidents, called Barr’s “resentment toward rule-of-law prosecutors,” and flagrant efforts to assist President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO calls blocking New York Post article without explanation ‘unacceptable’ Michael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration’s Justice Department As Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT MORE’s allies dangerous for the department.

“I have respected our leadership regardless of whether we were led by a Republican or a Democrat. I always believed the department’s past leaders were dedicated to the rule of law and the guiding principle that justice is blind. That is a bygone era, but it should not be forgotten,” he writes.

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He references Barr’s “meddling” in the trials of Trump associates Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortBruce Ohr retires from DOJ Don’t forget: The Trump campaign gave its most sensitive data to a Russian spy Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme MORE, Michael Flynn and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneOnly William Barr stands between Trump and the end of democracy in America Hundreds of attorneys and judges offer to support any Trump official opposing ‘political misuse of the DOJ’ Juan Williams: Trump’s Supreme Court power grab MORE, including instances where federal judges have taken action against Barr’s attempts to have the cases dismissed or postponed.

“This career bureaucrat seems determined to turn our democracy into an autocracy,” Halpern says.

He is also critical of Barr for supporting Trump’s use of federal troops during protests after the death of George Floyd, while remaining inactive when armed militia members gathered inside the Michigan capitol to protest COVID-19 safety measures enacted by Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerVirginia governor on alleged kidnapping plot: Trump’s rhetoric ’emboldening’ white supremacists The Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by Facebook – Barrett touts independence to sidestep confirmation questions Giffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA MORE (D)

Last week, the FBI announced it had foiled a plot to kidnap the governor by some of those same militia members.

Writing about U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamReport: Barr says review of Russia investigation won’t be ready before election Former Justice Department lawyers accuse Barr of seeking to help Trump win reelection The FBI and special counsel’s horrible, terrible, miserable week MORE’s ongoing, Barr-ordered probe into the origins of the 2016 Russia investigation and possible links to the Obama administration, Halpern refers to it as “a quixotic pursuit designed to attack the president’s political rivals.” He says this action is in-line with Barr’s disdain for apolitical prosecutors, to whom he has referred as “headhunters.”

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Halpern states that if his actions as a U.S. attorney such as charging and convicting prominent Republican politicians Duncan HunterDuncan HunterDCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to ‘Red to Blue’ program Wife of former Rep. Duncan Hunter sentenced to 8 months of home confinement Harris endorses Democrat in tight California House race MORE and Duke Cunningham, make him a “headhunter” then he will wear the badge with honor.

Hunter, a former California congressman, has been charged with campaign finance fraud, and Halpern says he would have left the DOJ earlier but for his fear that Barr would have interfered in the probe if he left.

Halpern also claims Barr’s presence is deterring highly qualified lawyers from applying to be federal prosecutors.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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