Schiff and Nadler seek probe of Barr for comments on Trump move to fire intel watchdog

The Democrats say the AG’s comments may have violated DOJ’s code of professional conduct.

Schiff and Nadler seek probe of Barr for comments on Trump move to fire intel watchdog

Two top House Democrats are asking internal Justice Department watchdogs to investigate Attorney General William Barr for recent comments they say misrepresented the facts about President Donald Trump's decision to fire Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community.

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California and Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York say Barr's comments, in an April 9 interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham, may have violated DOJ's code of professional conduct, which requires officials to operate with "candor."

The lawmakers asked Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz to investigate whether Barr violated professional responsibilities in his comments about Atkinson and whether he improperly interfered in Atkinson's efforts to alert Congress to alleged misconduct by Trump last fall.

"The role of Attorney General Barr and other senior DOJ officials, in coordination with the White House, in attempting to prevent the whistleblower complaint from reaching Congress — as required by law — warrants your attention," they wrote, referring to the complaint that sparked Trump’s impeachment trial.

Trump abruptly fired Atkinson earlier this month, citing Atkinson's decision last fall to inform Congress about the existence of a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his Democratic adversaries. Atkinson deemed the complaint "urgent" and credible, triggering a legal requirement to inform Congress. The White House and Justice Department intervened, overruling Atkinson's determination and blocking him from sharing it with Congress.

Ultimately, Atkinson did not share the complaint with Congress, but the public pressure surrounding the incident prompted the administration to share the details with lawmakers in September.

Yet Barr, in his Fox interview, suggested Atkinson deserved to be fired because he violated Justice Department protocols, a characterization that Nadler and Schiff say falsely impugns the former inspector general’s actions.

Justice Department officials acknowledged receiving the letter from the Democratic chairmen.

A senior DOJ aide said despite the allegations, Barr's assessment of Atkinson's conduct was correct. Atkinson, the official said, should have deferred to the Justice Department's legal opinion that Congress was not entitled to the substance of the complaint and was incorrect to inform lawmakers of its existence and that he disagreed with DOJ's opinion to bar lawmakers from receiving it.

Schiff and Nadler noted that Atkinson's decision to inform Congress of the existence of the complaint was subsequently blessed by acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who told lawmakers the same month that Atkinson handled the matter "by the book."

It's unclear whether Horowitz will consider the lawmakers' request — he received an identical one from Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Mark Warner of Virginia last week as well. But the veteran watchdog has tangled with Trump repeatedly in recent years. Most notably, Horowitz defended Atkinson's actions surrounding the whistleblower report after Trump's decision to remove him.

"Inspector General Atkinson is known throughout the Inspector General community for his integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight," Horowitz said at the time. "That includes his actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, which the then Acting Director of National Intelligence stated in congressional testimony was done 'by the book' and consistent with the law."

Horowitz also issued reports sharply critical of the FBI's handling of both the Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia investigation, simultaneously providing fodder for Trump and his allies while debunking a string of conspiracy theories about the handling of both probes.

In their letter, Nadler and Schiff also copied Jeffrey Ragsdale, head of DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles internal disciplinary matters.

Source : Politico USA More   

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‘Hearts broken’: Identities of victims in Nova Scotia shootings start to emerge

Amid expressions of grief and condolences from a shocked public, police in Nova Scotia focused on the grim task Monday of piecing together the events of one of the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history.At least 17 people are dead after a rampage across northern Nova Scotia this weekend. The shooter, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman — who had donned a police uniform — was killed after police intercepted him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on Sunday.Among the dead is RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the national police force and a mother of two. Also killed was Debert Elementary school teacher Lisa McCully.“Nova Scotia is devastated,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage wrote on Twitter on Monday morning. “As we wait for more details of this horrific crime there is an ominous silence that is unprecedented in my lifetime.”“This will not define us as a Province, but it has shaken us to our core.”Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney identified McCully as one of the dead in a Facebook post."9300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives," he wrote.RCMP say they were initially called to reports of a man with firearms in the small community of Portapique, N.S., on Saturday night.There, officers found numerous people dead or wounded, both inside and outside a property. But Chief Insp. Chris Leather said Sunday that by the time police arrived, the shooter was gone.An hours-long manhunt and eventual police chase ensued across a swath of the Maritime province, with officers providing periodic updates about the suspect's whereabouts.Leather said the killings appeared to be, “at least in part, very random in nature.”A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matched video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.Portapique residents who spoke with media either said they did not know Wortman personally, or knew him in passing as a part-time resident who divided time between the Halifax area and his properties in the community.Premier Stephen McNeil described the massacre as “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province's history.”In a series of tweets, he added that all Nova Scotians would be affected by the tragedy."It's okay to feel sad, or angry, or hopeless," he wrote. "But what's not okay is to bear all of those feelings alone. Reach out to a loved one, a friend, a neighbour. And if you need more support, that’s okay too. The provincial crisis line is available 24/7: 1-888-429-8167.”More to come

‘Hearts broken’: Identities of victims in Nova Scotia shootings start to emerge

Amid expressions of grief and condolences from a shocked public, police in Nova Scotia focused on the grim task Monday of piecing together the events of one of the deadliest mass killings in Canadian history.

At least 17 people are dead after a rampage across northern Nova Scotia this weekend.

The shooter, identified as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman — who had donned a police uniform — was killed after police intercepted him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., on Sunday.

Among the dead is RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year member of the national police force and a mother of two. Also killed was Debert Elementary school teacher Lisa McCully.

“Nova Scotia is devastated,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage wrote on Twitter on Monday morning. “As we wait for more details of this horrific crime there is an ominous silence that is unprecedented in my lifetime.”

“This will not define us as a Province, but it has shaken us to our core.”

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney identified McCully as one of the dead in a Facebook post.

"9300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives," he wrote.

RCMP say they were initially called to reports of a man with firearms in the small community of Portapique, N.S., on Saturday night.

There, officers found numerous people dead or wounded, both inside and outside a property. But Chief Insp. Chris Leather said Sunday that by the time police arrived, the shooter was gone.

An hours-long manhunt and eventual police chase ensued across a swath of the Maritime province, with officers providing periodic updates about the suspect's whereabouts.

Leather said the killings appeared to be, “at least in part, very random in nature.”

A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matched video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.

Portapique residents who spoke with media either said they did not know Wortman personally, or knew him in passing as a part-time resident who divided time between the Halifax area and his properties in the community.

Premier Stephen McNeil described the massacre as “one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province's history.”

In a series of tweets, he added that all Nova Scotians would be affected by the tragedy.

"It's okay to feel sad, or angry, or hopeless," he wrote. "But what's not okay is to bear all of those feelings alone. Reach out to a loved one, a friend, a neighbour. And if you need more support, that’s okay too. The provincial crisis line is available 24/7: 1-888-429-8167.”

More to come

Source : Toronto Star More   

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