Why? Well, it turns out the head of the Catholic Charities affiliate had been active with Democrats and the Phoenix group had opposed President Trump’s immigration policies. By contrast, Hookers for Jesus is run by a Christian conservative and the Lincoln Tubman group was launched by a relative of a Trump delegate to the 2016 convention.
That Catholic Charities has been replaced by Hookers for Jesus says much about Barr’s Justice Department. Friends of Trump are rewarded. Opponents of Trump are punished. And the nation’s law enforcement apparatus becomes Trump’s personal plaything.
Federal prosecutors Monday recommended that Trump associate Roger Stone serve seven to nine years in prison for obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes.
Then Trump tweeted that the proposed sentence was “horrible and very unfair” and “the real crimes were on the other side.” And by midday Tuesday, Barr’s Justice Department announced that it would reduce Stone’s sentence recommendation. All four prosecutors, protesting the politicization, asked to withdraw from the case.
But politicization is now the norm. Last week, Barr assigned himself the sole authority to decide which presidential candidates — Democrats and Republicans — should be investigated by the FBI.
Also last week, the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Justice Department, announced that New York state residents can no longer enroll in certain Trusted Traveler programs such as Global Entry — apparent punishment for the strongly Democratic state’s policies on illegal immigrants.
On Tuesday, to get a better sense of the man who has turned the Justice Department into Trump’s toy, I watched Barr speak to the Major County Sheriffs of America, a friendly audience, at the Willard Hotel in Washington.
Even by Trumpian standards, the jowly Barr, in his large round glasses, pinstripe suit and Trump-red tie, was strikingly sycophantic. “In his State of the Union, President Trump delivered a message of genuine optimism filled with an unapologetic faith in God and in American greatness and in the common virtues of the American people: altruism, industriousness, self-reliance and generosity,” he read, deadpan.
Trump, he went on, “loves this country,” and “he especially loves you.” The boot-licking performance continued, about Trump’s wise leadership, his unbroken promises and even the just-impeached president’s passionate belief in the “rule of law.”
Then Barr turned to the enemy. He attacked “rogue DA’s” and “so-called social-justice reformers,” who are responsible for “historic levels of homicide and other violent crime” in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore. Politicians in sanctuary jurisdictions, he said, prefer “to help criminal aliens evade the law.” Barr vowed to fight these foes with “all lawful means” — federal subpoenas to force them to turn over “information about criminal aliens,” dozens of lawsuits to invalidate statutes and attempts to deny them both competitive and automatic grants.
In response to a question, Barr railed against tech companies’ use of encryption: “They’re designing these devices so you can be impervious to any government scrutiny,” he protested.
Maybe people wouldn’t be so sensitive about government scrutiny if the top law enforcement official weren’t using his position to punish political opponents and reward political allies.
Instead, with Barr’s acquiescence, we live in a moment in which: Trump’s Treasury Department immediately releases sensitive financial information about Hunter Biden, while refusing to release similar information about Trump; Trump ousts officials who testified in the impeachment inquiry and even ousts the blameless twin brother of one of the witnesses; and Trump’s FBI decides to monitor violent “people on either side” of the abortion debate — although the FBI couldn’t point to a single instance of violence by abortion-rights supporters.
This week, the Pentagon released a new color scheme for Air Force One, replacing the 60-year-old design with one that looks suspiciously like the old Trump Shuttle. Surprised? Don’t be. Soon the entire administration will be able to apply for a Justice Department grant as a newly formed nonprofit: Hookers for Trump.
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