The Hill reports Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday reportedly released a new set of restrictions covering FBI investigations of political candidates.
The memo, obtained by The New York Times, stated that the Department of Justice has the responsibility to make sure that elections are “free from improper activity or influences.” Barr’s orders come after Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz found that the FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s former campaign aide, Carter Paige, was ridden with errors and falsified info.
Under the new guidelines, the FBI must get Barr’s approval before investigating any 2020 presidential candidates or their senior staff, the Times reports.
Agents must first talk with relevant officials and the Justice Department before opening any probe into “illegal contributions, donations or expenditures by foreign nationals to a presidential or congressional campaign.”
According to the newspaper, Barr is the first attorney general to impose such guidelines, though past attorneys general have advised the FBI to use the utmost sensitivity when it comes to political investigations.
Barr has sparked widespread criticism over how he has handled politically charged cases in the past, such as the delivery of the Mueller report to Congress.
Barr has also overseen the federal prosecution of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on campaign finance charges. Parnas was central to the now-ended impeachment proceedings, as he repeatedly claimed that he had damning evidence concerning Giuliani and Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Prosecutors in New York are also investigating whether Giuliani broke foreign influence laws while he was in Ukraine on the behalf of the president.
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