“The Department of Justice cannot become a political weapon operated at the behest of the President to target those who have spoken out against this administration’s actions,” Durkan, a former US attorney, said in a statement. “That is an act of tyranny, not of democracy.”
“Ultimately, this is not a story about me. It is about the how this President and his Attorney General are willing to subvert the law and use the Department of Justice for political purposes,” she added. “It is particularly egregious to try to use the civil rights laws to investigate, intimidate, or deter those that are fighting for civil rights in our country.”
Barr’s suggestion that prosecutors should consider filing charges against the mayor fall in line with his public posture since George Floyd’s death in late May at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Casting himself as a law-and-order man, the attorney general has used speeches to show firm support for police and for quelling unrest rather than for the peaceful message advocating law enforcement reforms.
It’s a theme that has gained traction in conservative media, which Barr follows closely, and he is known to focus on the issue from time to time.
Still, some federal prosecutors were taken aback last week when the attorney general brought up the possibility of charging violent protesters with sedition, which is conspiring to overthrow the US government.
This story has been updated with additional background information and context.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.