On May 3rd, 2019, Kamala Harris tweeted:

I'm calling on the DOJ Inspector General to investigate whether the White House improperly ordered or pressured Barr to investigate the president's perceived enemies.

If there is a discussion about whether the President's "perceived enemies" acted outside of the bounds of the law, and subsequently, AG considers investigating them, what could make such a discussion "improper"?

Surely simply being political "enemies" (I assume she meant "opponents") of the President, in itself, is not enough to make any of their actions unrestricted by laws.

Is there a legal standard for what an IG would have to discover to make such a discussion "improper"?

Edit On, May 19th, 2019, Kamala Harris tweeted regarding this issue again:

The president all but confirmed today that he improperly asked the DOJ to prosecute John Kerry.

So, presumably the President has not yet confirmed it. But I still can't understand the word "improper" in this context. Is that the same as "illegal"? "Unethical"? "Not in accordance with the proper procedure"? What type of determination is DOJ Inspector General expected to make in response to her question?

  • I assume IG is supposed to be AG. – user6726 May 5 '19 at 5:02
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    @user6726 IG=inspector general (like in the quoted tweet). AG=attorney general (the person whom Kamala Harris believes to have been pressured). – grovkin May 5 '19 at 5:12
  • @user6726 In the Federal Government, the Inspector General is supposed to be a member of a particular agency who is charged with investigating the agency to which they are attached for any possible violations of procedures and policies. – hszmv May 10 '19 at 13:47

So the backstory of this, is that John Kerry has made statements to effect that could be interpreted as violating the Logan Act (the specific accusation is that he had contacted Iranian Government officials with respect to attempting to persuade them into being patient with the United States until Trump is out of office.). As Kerry was not a member of the United States Government at the time he made this discussion, it may count as a U.S. Citizen making unauthorized negotiontions with a foreign power, which is a violation of the Logan Act.

In order to prove these accusations were true, the actual conversation between Trump and Barr needs to be shown to have occurred (Trump has tweeted out policy decisions without discussing the matters with department heads before) and that the conversation had been largely discussing the matter in such a way that it was clear that the charges were... ahem... trumped up... ahem, in order to facilitate a hit job AND Barr was aware of that fact and still looked into the case.

As this request was made on the basis of remarks Kerry made a few months ago, and Trump specified a legitimate law and a potential admission of violation of the law, there doesn't seem to be a lot to go on to support this as an improper investigation. The fact that Donald Trump might be smiling about the though of Kerry being arrested while tweeting about a call for investigation.

If this were the case, should we not then investigate Senator Harris for improperly requesting the DOJ to investigate a perceived political enemy. After all, she is running for the Nomination to run against Trump for President, where Kerry is not (yet).

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  • There is however a constellation of such incidences, and it is possible for individually "acceptable" acts to accumulate into a crime, or, perhaps more accurately in this case, an abuse of power. – zibadawa timmy May 11 '19 at 6:00

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