Is the U.S. Department of Justice being 'weaponized?'

William Barr,Rod Rosenstein
Attorney General William Barr speaks alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, right, and acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Edward O'Callaghan, left, about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington.
Patrick Semansky | AP

Controversies at the Department of Justice are nothing new, but some observers say the efforts to politicize the Justice Department are “extraordinary” and “unprecedented.”

Washington Post investigative reporter Tom Hamburger has focused his reporting on the role of Attorney General William Barr and other top Justice officials, and yesterday he spoke about what he's learned. The University of Minnesota Humphrey School titled the event, "Weaponizing the Department of Justice."

Is the attorney general supposed to be the president’s personal lawyer, and work to help his interests?

Hamburger said the established traditions and norms of the post-Watergate attorneys general seem to have been breached or forgotten.

Justice Department officials are — by their own rules — supposed to steer clear of actions that could influence an election. Hamburger said “we’re seeing a Justice Department top official undermining confidence in mail-in voting. That’s the thing to watch.”

Former Vice President and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale joined the discussion, which was moderated by political science professor Larry Jacobs via Zoom on Sept. 14.

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