The Trump Administration's Response To DC Protests


From whyy in Philadelphia. Anterior gross with fresh air today, the role Attorney General William Bar has played in the trump administration's response to the peaceful protests, and to the looting and arson. In Washington DC The administration called in law enforcement from the National Guard Customs and Border Protection. Immigration and Customs, enforcement and the Bureau of prisons active duty, military troops were put on standby. On Monday June I just before the President's Bible Photo OP, peaceful protesters were pushed back with smoke, teargas and pepper spray. We'll talk with Matt sabotage. Sqi Who covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. We'll also talk about the Justice Department's response to previous accusations of systemic racism in local police departments. Last week in Washington DC and response to peaceful protests, and to looting and arson, the trump administration called in the national guard customs and Border Protection Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of prisons active duty. Military were put on standby. On Monday June I. Smoke Teargas, pepper balls, and according to protesters, rubber bullets were used to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square across from the White House. Just before, President Trump's Bible photo op. Many protesters have called for defunding the police on Sunday of this week. The Minneapolis City Council passed a veto-proof resolution to dismantle the city's police. Department the Council, President Lisa Bender said it's our commitment to end policing as we know it and recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe. My Guest Matt's Petoskey covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post in an article he co wrote the White House was described as being so fortified. It resembled a monarchical palace or authoritarian compound. We're going to talk about the role of Attorney General William Bar and how the trump administration has handled the protests, and how the Justice Department has been dealing with previous complaints about police, brutality, police, killings and systemic racism. That's petoskey welcome to fresh air. You for having me. So Minneapolis is planning to disband. The police force and recreate something William. Bar has said I think there's racism in the US but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systematically racist. Is the Department of Justice doing anything to examine the George Floyd case. The doing something to examine the George Floyd case in particular in that they've opened a civil rights investigation into the death, so that would look at whether the particular officers involved who are already facing state charges whether they violated federal civil rights law in George Floyd's death. What they've not done is this broader pattern or practice investigation, and that would look well beyond George, Floyd's death into the broader systems and policies and training in place at the Minneapolis Police Department to determine whether there's any sort of systemic discrimination. There are other systematic problems. How is it being interpreted that the Justice Department is not looking into that? While the Justice Department is under a lot of pressure to look into that. The Democrats on the House judiciary. Committee have called for them to do that. Many civil liberties advocates have called for them to do that. These investigations are sort of a foolproof tool for forcing reform right and like you see in Minneapolis some local leaders want to go even further end to fund or dismantle the Police Department and. Change it structurally there, but these pattern of practice investigations are something the Justice Department has used in previous administrations to force reforms of Police Department so the Justice Department Justice Department is under a lot of pressure to do that here. William Bar tap by trump to direct the national response to the protests. Is that typically the Attorney General's role? In this instance I think his role grew beyond what you normally think of the attorney general doing the attorney. General is the chief law enforcement officer of the country, and his in command of all sorts of components, the FBI the ATF, the DA, but in this instance we saw his authority kind of expanded. He was coordinating. Not just does agencies that are inside the. The Justice Department, but he had some role in commanding, Department of Homeland Security Agencies, in the days of severe unrest in DC, so that would include the park police right that is a little abnormal on another thing that kind of happen here is barred deployed to the streets agencies that you normally don't see doing this type of work that a part of the. The Justice Department normally but normally don't see them on the street, and the best example of that is he brought into DC, bureau of Prisons, riot teams normally what these guys do is when there is unrest inside of prisons. They put a stop to that, but bill bar brought them out to the street. That is unusual. Those guys are are his authority all the. The time right, but you almost never see them on the street. And that's what happened here and by his telling. These guys are specialists in quelling riots, and that's what he felt was going on, but also the DA. the ATF the FBI everybody in his control kind of was descended on DC to put a stop to what he saw as violent unrest. You know another question about the bureau of prisons when. When people are trained to deal with a prison riot. Then is really different than dealing with a protest about a police killing. I'm sure that the training is probably different for that. Were there any objections within the trump administration? Do bringing out? People trained in prison riots to the streets of Washington. I don't know that you saw any internal objections, but you certainly saw some of the issues that come with that. These guys were on the street without any identifying information in some cases, so people would pass them. Ask who they are. They wouldn't respond. There would be no sort of visible marker on them to say they were bureau of Prisons The director of the Bureau of Prisons has sort of apologized for that and noted as as you just did. These guys normally work in institutional settings? They don't have to identify themselves. The inmates know who they are, and why they're not usually working on the street. And he said maybe he could have done a job of marking them. That can be really important right because if something goes wrong and there's video of an incident. You would want to know who is doing. What in that video? Video. Not only would you want them to be marked with an agency, but you might want them to be marked with some kind of identifying number, so you can figure out who is responsible for what also when there are so many law enforcement agencies on the street. You want different police to know who the other police are. Something goes wrong so local law enforcement agencies need to know that they're dealing with legitimate federal law enforcement, and when you have someone just unmarked. That's harder to do. What we're customs and Border Protection an ice immigration and customs enforcement. Doing there and the Transportation Security Administration. All of these people were kind of feeling. Filling what they normally do, but just in the context of protests, so like I'm thinking in particular of Da. They gave da this broader authority to kind of enforce laws and collect intelligence, so they were doing that, but they were also doing security at federal buildings, and that's because the people who normally do that might actually have to be deployed to do crowd control. That's what the riot teams were doing. You spoke with the former secret service agent who objected to how the secret service was used. Back on Monday June I. What was his objection? Yeah well, so on Monday there was you know what is now been a widely condemned move to push back this crowd of largely peaceful demonstrators outside of the White House. These people had been been gathering there for days on Monday. The decision was made that apparently they were going to extend the perimeter, but by the time they. moved to do that. The crowd had already gathered, so the police sort of moved in on the crowd. They forcibly pushed them back with horses using gas using pepper balls. And one former secret service agent told us that itself is just kind of unusual, particularly for the secret service officers kind of established a line. They don't have a moving line. They keep a line there and with protesters, not pushing on that. It was unusual to see law enforcement kind of be the aggressor in this instance. Your paper, The Washington Post reported in your report. Had that it was William Bar, who gave the order to push back the protesters outside the White House and That when bar came to the scene on Monday June first. He said he was surprised to see that. The perimeter hadn't been pushed back around the White House and Lafayette Square and bar. Said get it done. He has contradicted that. What's the bar version of who gave the order and what what Bar said? Well to be honest with you. It's still a little murky and I would sort of dispute that he's contradicted. His telling is just a little more complicated. Although we told this to. So by his telling early on Monday, the decision is made he makes the decision to extend the perimeter northward from the White House by one block and at two PM. He communicates that directive to the various law enforcement agencies. and. Then it's about four hours later that he's spotted on the scene, talking to officials there on the ground and we reported and other folks reported that at that moment he sort of shows up to survey the scene and is surprised to find that this isn't done, and he says something to the effect of get it done. The White House press secretary has given essentially that an identical version of that. On Friday Bartok, the Associated Press and he added one little wrinkle to that, which was sort of yes, all that was true up to the moment he got there, but by the time he got there. The operation was already underway. I think is how the Associated Press framed, and he didn't give the quote unquote tactical order to move the crowd I'm still trying to sort out what. What the Justice Department. What exactly that means because? They claim that they're not disputing what? The White House press secretary said, which is the? He told officers on the ground that the perimeter. It needs to be moved so I. Guess we're still trying to understand. Is He? Saying well look? It wasn't as if I was on a bullhorn saying gas them, you know fire the bullets. High Level Command is he saying that he was just expressing his frustration, but that the operation was already underway, so it's not technically accurate to say. He gave an order, or at least not technically accurate to say given order then instead, he had given that order four hours earlier. What I think is notable about those comment is he seems to be trying to distance himself from what had occurred. It seems like there's some recognition that what had occurred. Even though he has defended, he seems to be trying to do now. Distance himself a little bit from him. One way or another. He was seen on camera talking with law enforcement about twenty four minutes before law enforcement moved in on the protesters No Barr says that the protesters weren't cleared. For the purposes of trump's. Photo outside Saint John's Church. What have you learned about that? He has tried to disconnect the move on protesters from the photo op, and essentially he has said at two PM when I. When I formerly told law enforcement agencies. This needs to happen. I didn't know actually. He said he didn't know that trump plan to speak and it was after trump spoke that he went over to the church. We do know some of my White House. Colleagues have reporting from inside the white. House that this was kind of evolving planner that was only finalized very late in the day. So it is certainly plausible at two PM. He did not know officially that the president was going to go across the street the church after he spoke that said the timing of when protesters were. Were actually moved to win. He went across the church. It's very close. This isn't several hours later. This is within an hour later, we? He has disputed that there is a connection between the move on protesters and the going across the street to the church by his telling this was always the plan and the timing was just coincidental that there wasn't connection there but but the timing is quite interesting. Everyone was able to watch live on television. The crowd be moved the president. Speak, and then the president go right on over to the church across the now empty parking street. The Washington DC police. Had Not requested outside help. My understanding. What is the protocol for when a? Presidential Administration has the authority to call an outside forces to assist local police in the district. When you gotta remember. DC is not a state. It has many more federal police who operate here all the time and there are various memorandum of understanding about what they can and can't do. Usually they work very cooperatively together. This is an unusual incident. In in this incident, bar has defended what police federal police are doing. Even when it is upset by saying look, we have a right and duty to protect federal buildings, so we have to control the perimeter around the White House and the treasury around various federal monuments. That's our jurisdiction. You see that sometimes just every day in DC right like the Capitol police handle things that happen in the capital. Park police handle things that happen on various federal lands or federal roads and DC police control the rest though they typically operate collaboratively. With the recent unrest here, the trump administration contemplated trying to federalize the DC police. They ultimately didn't do that, but there has been as you know a lot of tension. In this relationship that normally works quite cooperative well. What would have meant to federalize the DC police? My guess it would have meant that the federal government would be giving command, said those guys that they no longer would be taking orders from the mayor and the police chief. What happened to him, but that the federal government bar you know in this instance because he had been given command of every federal law, enforcement agency would be. Able to deploy them in various places across the city. Will receive a lot of friction between the mayor of Washington DC and the trump administration. Have you seen anything like that before? Certainly, not to this scale I. Mean You know painting the street? with black lives matter right outside the White House projecting black lives matter you know on a building near the White House and then sort of tweeting about it being trump's night light. I mean this is a very fraught relationship I think. City generally has tried to agitate to expand its its right to home. Rule The you know. The city leaders have consistently in all the years I've lived here wanted to become a state, but this is a moment of tension like like I have not seen before. So on on Sunday the trump administration gave orders to pull out. The State National Guard from DC within forty eight to seventy two hours What did they actually do? Last a week ago. With the National Guard were here helping? Do crowd control. You know you saw them in front of the White House. You saw them out on the street. The the National Guard had been deployed to help you know quell the unrest, and not just the National Guard here in DC national guardsmen from other states had been called in to to quell the unrest. The trump administration had also brought in some active duty military sort of standby capacity thinking they might be needed to be deployed on the streets so that they have been out there operating. Doing crowd control with these protests. When trump said that he was going to withdraw the National Guard. He offered as a reason. That far fewer protesters. Had shown up than anticipated. On Saturday night. I don't know exactly what that means since we have no idea what trump anticipated. So, I haven't been on the ground are are very talented. Local staff has been handling that by. They're telling the crowds Numbered still in the in the many thousands they have been much more peaceful. You haven't seen in recent days. The fire setting that you saw I guess it was. More than a week ago now in Lafayette Park but their size has not diminished at all I think notably. You've even seen people out there when we've seen thunderstorms passed through the area albeit less when that occurs, but it's not as if the protests have kind of died away. I think it's certainly fair to say. Some of the violent unrest has gone down, but but Peru the account of our many reporters who are on the scene of these things. The size has not diminished. What are some of the things that? Trump or William bar have said in defense of the actions against protesters. Things that they've said that are not accurate. Will particularly referring to this Monday pushback. The controversial pushback of protesters outside of Lafayette Square bar has claimed that no tear gas was used. Our reporters and demonstrators were hit with a gas that induced pretty severe, coughing and tearing of the eyes. So that does not seem to be true. Bar has claimed things were thrown in his direction. There is a video that shows him on the scene, and you don't see anything visible of that though I can say that our reporters at times saw water bottles thrown. So that may be rings as half. True Bar has also made this very unusual can claim that pepper spray is not at all a chemical, even though it is marketed that way to kind of defend polices use of pepper Paul's to. To clear the demonstrators, and just all he this seems to be an effort to characterize this crowd on Monday as not peaceful. When in fact video shows they were. You know certainly there was a lot of yelling right, but when the police moved in on them, you saw line of people standing with their hands off. It was the police that move towards them, not the other way around and by bars, telling you know bars, telling just allies what happened? Let me reintroduce you if you're just joining us, my guest is this Petoskey? He covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post We'll be back after a short break. I'm Terry Gross, and this is fresh air support for NPR and the following message come from duck duck ago. Do you want the same Internet but more privacy? Duck duck go can help. They helped millions of people like you get privacy online without any tradeoffs with one download you can search and browse privately. Avoiding trackers duck duck go privacy simplified. Let's get back to my interview with Matt's. Petoskey he covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post and has been writing about the departments role in the trump administration's use of force against protesters in Washington DC last week. Do you think the trump administration has set any precedents. Regarding the use of force. Presidents that might be used in the future. Boy That's a really interesting question. I mean I think anytime you see a response to arrest and particularly one. That has this dramatic. There are lessons that are learned from. Both positive and negative rights, so in some respect we might look back at this in ten years and decide some of the things that were done were a really bad idea and shouldn't be done again. I mean when I look at all the intense blowback. What happened in Lafayette Square? You think boy you know. Future administrations likely will learn from that and decide not to. To do that, but by the same token, they sort of drawn a line to say you know this is okay. They have reinforced the idea that you can contemplate using the American military to enforce domestic laws are precedence that certainly would would play a role in the future the same way when we saw the American military called in related to the Rodney King Riots That's a precedent that the trump administration looked to in this instance so in the future I certainly think you'll see people looking back on what happened here you know with the massive deployment of every federal law enforcement agency for example and say hey. Maybe that's an idea we can contemplate again. You know what I've been wondering. Is the trump administration and I know you can't really answer this. Maybe you've. Heard talk is the trump. Administration worried that the next big demonstrations will be against them. We'll be against the trump administration or president trump in particular. And I'm wondering if they're concerned about that and if they're thinking about, how do they protect? themselves. The White House if that if that happens. Yeah I think I can answer that I mean after you saw what happened in Lafayette Square, the demonstration releasing grow in size, one and two. It also seemed to really center on the White House and as a consequence the white. House really built up this near fortress around the White House, so it does feel to me. Now have not been on the streets are are very talented. Local folks have been on the streets, but it did feel to me optically like the demonstrations at least here, in DC, a part of. Of them became about President Trump, and the response of course, the main motive still police violence. What happened to George Floyd here in DC? It did feel like some of the demonstration became about President trump and while I don't know that this speaks exactly to your question. There was some internal hand-wringing about what happened outside Lafayette Square with that now infamous photo op I think some advisers internally have expressed to our reporters into other White House reporters. They now realize that was a really bad idea. That could hurt them politically. I want to quote something in an article that you co wrote in The Washington Post about how the White House was transformed into a veritable fortress, the physical manifestation of trump's vision of law and order domination over the millions of Americans who've taken to the streets to protest racial injustice the White House is so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of teams in far away lands. Do you know if that's the image that trump wants to give. Certainly he wants to give this law and order image right. If you think back to his inauguration, he gives this very dark speech where he uses the phrase. american-carnage talks about backing law enforcement that very gay. The White House posts online these kind of pillars of his administration, and one is specifically about not coddling, the looter and the rioter, so that image of strength is certainly one that he wants you know does he'd like being compared to a monarch? I don't know that I know the answer to that, but he certainly has leaned into the idea. Here's the law and order president cracking down on the violence. He apparently sees that as a winning political strategy. William Bar said that many protesters have been peaceful and he blamed extremist agitators for exploiting the situation. Any said the agitators have a variety of different political persuasions, but the only group he actually named whereas Antifa, which is an antifascist group is associated with the very far left as opposed to the very far right. But there's been a lot of. Talk that some of the people responsible for x violence were actually from far right groups. Who would like to? See just chaos. And some of them would even like to see a civil war in America. Some of these far right groups are. White supremacist groups so I'm wondering What you've been hearing. About investigations into. Who was responsible? For creating some of the chaos and violence that we have seen. They've charged now. Federally dozens of people with various violent acts connected to the protests. Sometimes, it's because the people possess or try to distribute Molotov cocktails other times. It's because they cross state lines to riot and I have to say of the cases that I've looked at. The vast majority seemed to be these sort of one off I don't even know what you would call them. They're not any part of any organized group. They just seem to be personally intent on inciting mayhem for mayhem. Sake that seems to be the majority of them. They have charged at least three people who work connected to this far right group called a boo. Boo Movement, the Attorney General though. Even though he is conceited, look, there are a lot of different ideologies driving the violent element at these protests. The only thing he names is in TEPA. and. That's the thing that the president has seized on right but ANTIGA. It's not even quite right to say it is a group. If you're thinking of a group in terms of one with a national sort of structure, it's more an ideology, just a far left ideology. There are some in Thika groups in various cities though there are quite small. The Justice Department has said that some of the people that they're questioning in connection with violence identify as Antiga, but it's hard to even know what that means I see people post on Facebook, friends of mine or acquaintances of mine. I should say you know post like a picture of World War Two and say look the original mtpa because the phrase sort of stands for anti fascist. So you know what critics say, the administration is doing. Doing here is trying to blame this nebulous left leaning forced to suggest that that's really behind these protests at violence at these protests, and that's just not true. I mean one. These protests are driven by very real concern about police violence against black people, and to while it is true that there is some level of outside agitators and violence that can at times infiltrate these things it's not like this is just coming from the left. I guess is mad sabotage. He covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. We'll talk more after we take a short break. This is fresh air. This week on, it's been minute. Talk out the news with my aunt betty. I'm more concerned about the black men that I love that anything were because. I JUST WANNA. Get that call also parenting in the age of black lives, matter and the history of police reform. Listen and subscribe. It's been a minute from. NPR. Let's get back to my interview. With Matt said Petoskey. He covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. We're talking about Attorney General William Baras role in the trump administration's response to the protests. The trump administration considered using the insurrection act. What is it and how has it been used in the past? The Insurrection Act. Is this law that essentially gives the president the authority to deploy active duty military to enforce domestic laws. I think most people have this concept in their head that the American military can't be used to enforce domestic laws, and that's generally true. There's another law called the posse. COMITATUS act that prevents them from doing that, but the insurrection spells out some exceptions, and it has been used in the past. Past at moments of unrest like this, so it's been it was used during the civil rights movement. Most recently, it was used when William Bar was last attorney general in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, two to suppress some unrest in Los Angeles, related to the beating of Rodney, King so it's this law that would let the president deploy the American military to the streets if he wanted to do that. but he didn't use the act. Do you know why he considered it and didn't use it? Ultimately he didn't use it. by bill bars, telling by the secretary of defense's telling. They consider this a sort of last resort extreme measure, I think the Secretary of Defense has come out and publicly said he opposed invoking this act, and the reason is you know we were in a moment? Where of great tension between police, the military and the American citizenry when? Threatened to deploy the military to the streets of the country. There was intense blowback. People saying that the military was actually being weaponized against its own citizens. You only take this step in extreme. Cases ultimately president trump chose not to hear. The troops were sort of ready to go. They were here on on standby, but In the end, some of the violence decreased. And the president chose not to do it. Bar said and award ceremony for policing. In December! That communities have to start showing more than they do. The respect and support that law enforcement deserves, and if communities don't give that support and respect, they may find themselves without the police protection they need. How was that interpreted? This was sort of a remarkable statement that he made, and it seemed to be suggesting like look you better back police war. The police won't be there to protect you, and it's just a remarkable assertion. Right like the threat that police protection will be pulled if they're not adequately respected so this attorney general and his predecessor. Jeff sessions have taken this tack of the Justice. Department needs to quote him back the blue. We shouldn't be involved in forcing them to reform or investigating. They're second guessing them. We need to support them because we feel. They aren't being supported by residents, and this was sort of a dramatic example of that of bar. Saying I don't think police are being appropriately respected, and if this continues, look maybe won't be there for you. What has. The Justice Department done or decided not to do. To investigate police departments where they have been accused of systematic racism. While the Justice Department in the trump administration has abandoned a number of sort of systemic reform efforts that we saw in the Obama Administration. The most notable of those is these pattern or practice investigation, so what? Is the Justice Department? Civil Rights Division would go in and broadly examined a police department, not just an individual incident, but all of the policies and practices at a police department that might be discriminatory, and then what what they would do is present of typically scathing report of their findings to that department, and they would get into a court. Enforceable what's called a consent decree where the department would agree to reforms and agree in a court would make sure that they carried them out. The trump administration has just not done that I think they've done one pattern or practice investigation all of the administration. The Obama Administration did twenty five just of local law enforcement agencies. They've also had this other thing called the cops office, which had sort of a more voluntary process called collaborative. Collaborative reform where they wouldn't have a court, get involved, but the Justice Department would work with police departments to create some plan to reform the trump administration says we're not GONNA do that. The COPS office can still give grants, and that sort of thing, but it's not going to help you know with these kind of systemic reforms that civil liberties advocates and others have called for the trump administration has just taken a completely different tack. Well you know I in two thousand fourteen after Michael. Brown was killed. In the hands of Police Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department investigate. Not just Michael Brown's killing in Ferguson but the entire Ferguson. Police Department. What was the outcome? Did it amount to substantive change? Well, it did produce a very long scathing report and the city. Of Tense Negotiation ultimately signed a court enforceable agreement to force reforms, and you saw that not just in Ferguson but in lots of cities across the country in Baltimore for example I think down in New Orleans. The record of these things I have to say though is somewhat mixed, so the Washington Post back in two thousand fifteen studied a lot of these agreements, and it is true that they generally forced policy changes. They forced equipment upgrades that kind of thing, but if you measured them just on use of force, like did polices use of force? Get reduced the. The record, there was a lot more mixed, so civil liberties advocates I think would concede these things aren't a silver bullet. They don't magically solve all the problems overnight I. Don't think they've solved all the Ferguson. Problems or all of Baltimore's problems but they're tool that helps for some reform, and there are tool that the administration now just isn't use it. So Barr did Organiz on the president's orders, a new national commission to study issues in law enforcement such as training and data collection, but that's been controversial. How come? Yeah, so this is the thing that he has pointed to as his police reform effort, but but civil liberties advocates right when that thing was convened pointed out. This is a law enforcement people. You know a lot of times when you think of a commission, you think of it having kind of variety of people from diverse backgrounds with various perspectives, you might see some police chief. Some defense attorneys, some civil liberties advocates. Maybe some community activists types. This was all police officials They did have a meeting about civil liberties concerns although I think it was Gosh I. I don't WanNa. I don't WanNA speak, but it was not among the first four meetings that they had civil liberties. Advocates have actually sued over this group saying that it's not representative as it as it needs to be so you know the Justice Department would say well look. We are studying issues in policing in this commission will certainly look at some of the concerns that people have now, but civil as advocates feel like no, this is just sort of lip service, and it's only police officials. who were discussing this? You can't just have their perspective. You need some of ours. Have investigations been proposed into the trump administration's handling of protesters last week. Oh, absolutely I think lawmakers are already investigating so to speak requesting information on what happened outside of Lafayette Square so so definitely, there is an intense. Desire among lawmakers to know what happened to you know, conduct their oversight role. If. You're just joining us. My guest is Matt, sabotage. He covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. We'll talk more after a break. This is fresh air. As protests sweep the nation, the subject of policing is once again being hotly debated this week on through line, how police forces developed in the north and the south in the nineteenth century, and expanded their power in the twentieth century through lot from NPR the podcast where we go back in time to understand the present support for NPR comes from whyy presenting the podcast eleanor. Eleanor amplified an adventure series. Kids love here. REPORTER ELEANOR ATWOOD CRAFTY VILLAINS and solve mysteries as she travels the globe to get the big story available where you get podcasts or at whyy dot org. Let's get back to my interview with Matt's Petoskey. He covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post. We're talking about the trump administration's use of force against protesters last week. So much of Americans attention. Has Been focused on the pandemic. And on the protests. against. George fluids killing. what else has attorney general William Bar been up to? a lot of people are not paying attention to the rest of the news right now because the pandemic. And, the protests are so so consuming I mean that's where so many of us have our attention focused. Yeah well and I. Think the Attorney General Bar has his attention largely focused on those issues to you know. His staff has told us in recent days that he's taken an extremely hands on role in managing the police response to these protests, but he's also still involved in some efforts involving cases of interest to president. Trump's oh. You know as all has been going on. This is really before a lot of the scene, but during the pandemic, he was personally involved in the Justice Department's move to abandon the prosecution of former National Security, advisor Mike Flynn who, in two thousand. Thousand Seventeen pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with the Russian diplomats, but then changed defense teams went on the attack against his case, and won a sympathetic ear inn attorney general bar. I would say that did get a lot of attention even amid all the news and it's been quite controversial. You know I think critics see this as the attorney general just helping the friend of the president. It's pretty unusual to have someone plead guilty. Admit Multiple Times in court. They did wrong and then the Justice Department to say actually. We can't pursue that case anymore. What are some of the other issues in which bar has been accused of siding with the president as opposed to? CY siding with Standard legal procedures and legal judgments. Well the Flynn case that I just mentioned is a big one. If you go back to the sentencing Roger, stone this is another longtime associate of president trump who was convicted at a trial of lying to Congress in connection with its investigation of Russian interference in the election bill bar personally intervened in that case to reduce the sentencing recommendation that career prosecutors wanted to give. That was a pretty unusual move career prosecutors wanted to recommend a sentence within these things called the federal. Federal sentencing guidelines. That's almost always what the Justice Department does. Bill Bar came over top and said no this instance. We don't WanNa do that after they had already made a recommendation, so that would be one example House Democrats would say he has taken this posture towards them of complete stonewalling, which is unusual for the justice, department typically when House Democrats want records or information, they kind of work through this. Negotiation with the Justice Department to get materials they want House Democrats say Bill Bar has just not wanted to engage in that process. He just won't turn over materials, and they see that as protecting president trump at the expense of warm, so there are a lot of examples that bars critics point to helping the president's friend protecting the president from transparency now expanding. Showing the president's Great Authority to use the National Guard military and law enforcement to respond to unrest in the district. You've been covering how the trump administration has used law enforcement to deal with the protesters in in Washington. Before covering the Justice Department, you covered. Prince George's county for The Washington. Post and you covered policing. Look local policing. What are some of the things you learn covering local policing? That are helping you in covering the protests now and the trump administration's response to the protests. Question I've been actually thinking a lot about my time in Prince. George's county and even covering police, shootings and I think when I covered that videos sort of weren't quite as prolific as they are now and I think back to some of the police shootings I cover where witnesses or the family members of someone shot would say one thing and police would say another thing, and there just wasn't quite quite the level of unrest, and and I sort of reflected in wondered. What happened if what would have happened if there were? were videos of all these incidents that I reported on that could've you know put to rest any dispute and was the account I was often given from police. Was that accurate? Because I think you've seen here? as unrest has swept the country, you've seen example after example of police, saying one thing and a video showing another thing I've also thought a lot about that. In the context of some of these deformed or abolish the police efforts I think some of those might be a little bit of a misnomer that. That that that language though it seems to suggest that means we won't have police. The what the people using that language has no. No, no, it would just change. Police functions. Police wouldn't be involved in things other than basic law enforcement, they shouldn't be involved in response to mental health crises, and that sort of thing, and I have to say I remember covering police and police officers complaining to me, look, we have to respond to everything, and we always get people at their worst moment, so we get in the middle. Middle of domestic disputes we get in the middle of mentally ill. People who don't have a home and are on the are on the street, and we have to handle that you know so I think it's interesting to see this now. Become a national conversation about you know our police being asked to do too much. Are we giving police too much responsibility and authority and I think back to some of the conversations. I had with police then and think, would you? Would you really oppose if we gave some of? The away, but also know. gave. You less responsibility. I don't know the answer to that. That's Metavsky. Thank you so much for talking to us. Thank you for having me. Matt's Sabotage Ski covers the Justice Department for the Washington Post Tomorrow. On fresh air, we'll talk about how disproportionate use of force can turn a peaceful protests violent, and how before George Floyd's death Minneapolis failed to remove bad officers. My guest will be Jemayel's Lardy who reports on the justice system for the Marshall Project and was part of a team at the Guardian. That tracked police violence in America I hope you'll join us. Fresh Air's. Producer is Danny Miller. Our Technical Director and engineer is Audrey Bentham our interviews and reviews produced an edited by any Salad Phyllis Myers Sam brigger Lauren Crandall. To recent madden, they challenor Seth Kelly Andro Wolfram. or associate producer of digital media is Molly Seavy Nesper. Roberta. shorrock directs the show. I'm Terry, gross

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