‘Sheer Lunacy’: Ex-Fed Prosecutors Horrified By DOJ Attempt To Barge Into Trump Suit

Attorney General William Barr speaks during an event about 'Operation Legend' in the East Room of the White House on July 22, 2020. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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September 9, 2020 1:07 p.m.

Legal experts and former prosecutors have been raking Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department over the coals ever since the DOJ asked in a court filing Tuesday night to take over President Donald Trump’s defense in writer E. Jean Carroll’s personal lawsuit against him.

Experts ripped the Trump administration for acting as Trump’s defense team on the taxpayer’s dime and shredded the Justice Department’s argument for doing so: That Trump was “acting within the scope of his office” when he denied last year Carroll’s allegation that he had raped her in the mid-90s. His denial and subsequent insults about Carroll’s looks are the basis of the writer’s defamation suit.

CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, who also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN anchor Don Lemon that the move was “sheer lunacy” and that Barr “has really debased the Justice Department to just do whatever is necessary to get the President’s back, no matter how outrageous.”

“Every time you think Bill Barr has gone as far as he can possibly go to turn DOJ into the President’s own private law firm to politicize DOJ, he goes a little lower,” Honig said.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, noted during an MSNBC interview that not only was it an “egregious use of taxpayer dollars,” controversial moves like this one also undermine career DOJ officials’ credibility in separate cases.

“Every time there is one of these hits and one of these blows, it’s a blow to morale because it means that the Justice Department’s reputation nationally takes a blow,” she told MSNBC host Brian Williams. “And when they stand up in court on a different case, the reputation and credibility that they’ve always enjoyed is a little bit more tarnished tomorrow than it was yesterday.”

Joyce Vance, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama under the Obama administration, speculated via Twitter that Barr is intervening in the case out of desperation to shut down Carroll’s suit.

“This is a risky strategy for Barr & Trump. They have to have known it would be widely condemned and seen for the fraud it is, which means they are really afraid of the strength of @ejeancarroll’s case,” Vance wrote.

Jill Wine-Banks, an-ex Watergate prosecutor, wondered how the DOJ’s arguments for intervening in the lawsuit “pass the red face test.”

And former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal tweeted that it was, “putting it mildly, an insane position.”

This, he said, was “the opposite of the way the Department of Justice is supposed to behave.”

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