In New Letter To Attorney General Barr, Leader Schumer Demands Answers Regarding The AG’s Alarming Claim That The President Can Unilaterally Dismiss Investigations He Believes Are Based On False Allegations

May 2, 2019

In The Letter, Leader Schumer Excoriates Attorney General Barr For His Extremist Statement Which Shows A Complete And Total Disregard For The Carefully-Designed System Of Checks And Balances The Framers Enshrined In Our Constitution

Schumer Demands That Barr Answers A Series Of Questions—Including Whether AG Barr Stands By His Statement, Who Determines Whether The President Is ‘Falsely Accused’, And Whether It Is Lawful For The President To Unilaterally Terminate Investigations

Schumer To Barr: If These Views Are Truly Your Views, You Do Not Deserve To Be Attorney General

Washington, D.C.On the heels of Attorney General Barr’s disturbing performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, where he claimed the President of the United States can unilaterally dismiss investigations if he believes they are based on false allegations, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today sent a letter to AG Barr demanding answers to a number of questions about these comments, in order to determine his commitment to the rule of law and fitness to continue leading the Department of Justice. In the letter, Leader Schumer expresses extreme concern regarding the troubling, extremist views AG Barr put forth during the hearing and says they exemplify complete disregard for the carefully-designed system of checks and balances the Framers enshrined in our Constitution. Schumer adds that if Attorney General Barr truly subscribes to these views, he does not deserve to be Attorney General.

Leader Schumer’s letter to Attorney General Barr can be found here and below:

May 2, 2019

The Honorable William P. Barr

Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20530

Dear Attorney General Barr:

Your testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday raised a number of very serious concerns about your understanding of your role in our government, your commitment to the rule of law and your fitness to continue leading the Department of Justice. 

Among the many disturbing things you said, I was particularly troubled by your statement that if the president feels an investigation “is based on false allegations, the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course.  The president could terminate that proceeding and not have it be corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused.”  If this idea is how our nation is governed, we will no longer be the democracy Americans think we are.

I understood from the memorandum you sent to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in June of 2018 that you subscribe to a philosophy in which the executive is exalted above the other co-equal branches of government.  But this was the first time I had heard you articulate, as Attorney General, this starkly extremist view.  Such a statement, in my view – and I believe most Americans would agree – shows complete disregard for the carefully-designed system of checks and balances the Framers enshrined in our Constitution.  If these views are truly your views, you do not deserve to be Attorney General.  I was so troubled by your statement that I am writing today to ask you the following questions:

Do you stand by this statement, or was it a mistake?

In your view, who determines whether the president is “falsely accused?”  Do you believe the president has the power to make such a determination himself – unilaterally?   

Is it lawful for the president to unilaterally terminate an investigation involving a member of his family?  Or a business associate? 

Do you believe that President Nixon, who certainly believed he was falsely accused, could simply have terminated the Watergate investigation?  Who was right in the Saturday Night Massacre – President Nixon or Elliot Richardson?

What limiting principle, if any, applies to your theory of a president’s power to terminate such investigations? 

I would appreciate your prompt reply to these questions.


                                                                        Charles E. Schumer