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Pascrell Calls for Legal Sanctions of Barr

Letters to DC, Virginia bar associations highlight rampant professional misconduct violations by U.S. Attorney General

Paterson, October 3, 2019

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today wrote separately to the District of Columbia and Virginia state bar associations on the conduct of Attorney General William Barr. Pascrell’s complaints allege rampant violations by Barr of the D.C. and Virginia bar Rules of Professional Conduct and urge the two bodies to impose strong sanctions of Barr’s legal status in the nation’s capital and the commonwealth of Virginia.

“I write to file a complaint against William P. Barr, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20530-0001, an active attorney in current good standing,” Pascrell writes the bar associations. “I request your office commence an immediate investigation of his behavior and consider sanctions for his conduct up to and including revocation of his license to practice law in your jurisdiction.”

In less than a year on the job, the compendium of Mr. Barr’s bad acts in office is staggering. Barr sought to mislead the public on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and likely lied to Congress on at least two occasions. He was also found in contempt of Congress by the House for refusing to comply with a legally-imposed subpoena. A recently-released letter from a whistleblower alleges that Barr has helped Donald Trump pressure foreign governments to open political investigations into Trump’s political foes and meddle in U.S. elections. Overall, Barr has participated in a corruption of the Justice Department the likes of which are unprecedented in American history.

“Mr. Barr’s pattern of lying and his corruption of the rule of law in America in service of one man is a betrayal of Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s warnings and unprecedented in our national life. In carrying out that perversion, Mr. Barr has clearly violated [your] Rules of Professional Conduct he swore to uphold and should face the severest sanction your body can mete out: revocation of his law licensure,” Pascrell concludes.

Rep. Pascrell has been one of Congress’s strongest critics of corruption in the Trump government and of William Barr’s tenure at the Department of Justice in 2019. Pascrell has been calling for Barr’s impeachment since May.

Copies of Rep. Pascrell’s letter to the D.C. and Virginia bar authorities are available respectively here and here. The full text of the D.C. letter is provided below.

 

October 3, 2019

 

Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Board on Professional Responsibility

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

515 Fifth Street, N.W.

Building A, Room 117

Washington, D.C. 20001

 

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

I write to file a complaint against William P. Barr, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20530-0001, an active attorney in current good standing with the District of Columbia Board of Bar Overseers. In his capacity as United States Attorney General, Mr. Barr has repeatedly violated the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct. Therefore I request your office commence an immediate investigation of his behavior and consider sanctions for his conduct up to and including revocation of his license to practice law in your jurisdiction.

 

The District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct necessarily govern the actions of your licensed attorneys. Mr. Barr has violated Rule of Professional Conduct 4.1(a), which requires that in “the course of representing a client, a lawyer shall not knowingly: Make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.”[i] Mr. Barr has also violated several precepts of Rule 8.4, including Rule 8.4(b) which covers “a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects”; Rule 8.4(c) which forbids “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation”; and Rule 8.4(d) which outlaws misconduct that “engage[s] in conduct that seriously interferes with the administration of justice.” Additionally, there is also evidence that Mr. Barr may have violated Rule 8.4(e) which prohibits “influenc[ing] improperly a government agency or official.”[ii]

 

In less than a year on the job, the compendium of Mr. Barr’s bad acts in office is staggering. On March 24, 2019, Mr. Barr issued a letter claiming to summarize the Report On the Investigation Into Russian Interference In the 2016 Presidential Election by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, but his summary was badly slanted, issuing forth narrowly selected facts while seeking to obfuscate the report’s conclusions.[iii] At an April 18, 2019 press conference, Barr continued this pattern of actively misrepresenting Special Counsel Mueller’s findings. There can be no doubt that Mr. Barr’s memo and press conference were designed to mislead the American public and the U.S. media.

 

In April 2019 testimony before Congress, Mr. Barr claimed that Special Counsel Mueller had no negative issue with his handling of the Report, but in a March 24, 2019 letter to the Attorney General, Special Counsel Mueller noted that Mr. Barr “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,”[iv] implying that Mr. Barr likely lied to Congress. It should be noted that in a July 8, 2019 interview, Mr. Barr in his capacity as Attorney General discouraged Special Counsel Mueller, then a private citizen, from testifying before public congressional hearing and thereby defying a subpoena.[v] And on July 17, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for ignoring a House subpoena probing Barr’s role in a scheme to corrupt the U.S. Census to disenfranchise minority Americans.[vi]

 

Mr. Barr’s corruption of our U.S. Department of Justice into a bodyguard protectorate of the sitting chief executive’s political interests has accelerated. The explosive whistleblower’s letter released on September 26, 2019 indicated that Mr. Barr was an accomplice in Donald Trump’s scheme to extort the Ukrainian government to open an investigation of an American politician and interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.[vii] Incredibly, despite being named prominently in the whistleblower’s complaint, Mr. Barr refused to recuse himself from investigation of the complaint’s allegations and has still not recused himself.[viii] Further reports suggest that Mr. Barr has worked at Mr. Trump’s behest to coordinate with other foreign governments to churn up dirt about Mr. Trump’s critics,[ix] and Mr. Barr has met with foreign government officials possibly to coax similar political materials advantageous to Mr. Trump. In May 1, 2019 testimony before the U.S. Senate, Mr. Barr denied that that the White House had ever asked him to investigate anyone at Trump’s political behest, making it likely that he lied to Congress again.[x]

 

In an address made exactly 57 years before that poisoned testimony, on Law Day, May 1, 1962, Mr. Barr’s predecessor observed that “[t]he glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution – nor by the courts – nor by the officers of the law – nor by the lawyers – but by the men and women who constitute our society – who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law.”[xi] In the same speech, Attorney General Robert Kennedy reminded us that if “the rule of law is to survive in a democracy…it must be carried out by the other agencies of government…as well as by all our citizens in their daily lives.” As you know, holding a law license is a sacred responsibility. Mr. Barr’s pattern of lying and his corruption of the rule of law in America in service of one man is a betrayal of Robert Kennedy’s warnings and unprecedented in our national life. In carrying out that perversion, Mr. Barr has clearly violated the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct he swore to uphold and should face the severest sanction your body can mete out: revocation of his law licensure.

 

It would be my pleasure to provide you with any other documentation I can proffer. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

 

 

Sincerely,



[i] https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/legal-ethics/amended-rules/rule4-01.cfm

[ii] https://www.dcbar.org/bar-resources/legal-ethics/amended-rules/rule8-04.cfm

[iii] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/bill-barrs-dangerous-pursuit-executive-power/592951/

[iv] https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/01/politics/fact-check-william-barr-lie-to-congress/index.html

[v] https://www.apnews.com/413061794ba14c6eb15173251388fcbc

[vi] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/us/politics/barr-ross-contempt-vote.html

[vii] https://time.com/5687302/whistleblower-william-barr-impeachment-trump-justice/

[viii] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-whistleblower-barr/house-judiciary-chief-call-on-barr-to-recuse-himself-from-ukraine-probes-idUSKBN1WA24K

[ix] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/30/us/politics/trump-australia-barr-mueller.html; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/barr-asked-trump-introductions-australia-italy-review-russia/story?id=65964849

[x] https://www.vox.com/2019/9/25/20883610/attorney-general-william-barr-trump-phone-call-volodymyr-zelensky-whistleblower-ukraine-scandal

[xi] https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ag/legacy/2011/01/20/05-01-1962.pdf

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