July 22 (UPI) — More than two dozen Washington D.C. lawyers on Wednesday filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Attorney General William Barr, accusing him of violating his professional obligations as a member of the local bar.
The complaint is signed by 27 members of the District of Columbia Bar, including four former presidents of the association. It accuses the attorney general of undermining the rule of law by acting more as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney than on behalf of the United States, as demanded by ethics rules.
The complaint urges the DC Bar to determine whether Barr should be subject to professional discipline due to his misconduct.
“The compelling evidence of … Barr’s pattern of dishonest statements and conflict of interest lead to one conclusion: Our DC Bar must commence an independent investigation of these allegations of misconduct,” former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin Jr., said in a statement accompanying the complaint.
The group claimed in its “bill of particulars” Barr has “engaged in a pattern of serious violations of DC Bar ethics rules, including conflicts of interest” — such as “ordering and supporting” the dispersal of a group of largely peaceful protesters outside the White House last month.
During the June 1 incident, federal law enforcement officers used horses and tear gas to push protesters back from Lafayette Square in Washington, allowing Trump to walk across the street to stage a photo opportunity at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.
The action “violated the protesters’ First and Fourth Amendments rights under the Constitution,” the lawyers wrote. “By violating the Constitution, [Barr] engaged in misconduct under DC Bar Rule XI.”
Last month, hundreds of former Justice Department employees similarly called for a probe of Barr’s involvement in the Lafayette Square incident in a letter to the department’s inspector general.
The DC Bar members also asserted the attorney general misled Congress and the public by claiming that the Mueller Report, probing the president’s possible involvement with Russian interference during the 2016 election, “did not contain sufficient evidence to establish that [Trump] committed the crime of ‘obstruction of justice.'”
“Mr. Barr’s dishonest, deceitful and misleading statements violated DC Bar Rule 8.4(c),” they claimed.
The Justice Department did not comment on the ethics complaint.