US attorney refutes report saying AG Barr mulled charges against Seattle mayor
A US attorney overseeing the Seattle, Wash., area joined Attorney General William Barr in denying a report that the nation’s top law enforcement officer asked prosecutors to explore criminal charges against the mayor of Seattle.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Brian Moran, US attorney for the Western District of Washington, refuted reporting from the New York Times published earlier that day, saying he would be aware of such a probe.
“Throughout this lengthy period of civil unrest, I have had multiple conversations with Department of Justice leadership. They have asked for information about protest activity devolving into violence, about federal interests implicated by the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, and about the cases filed in this District regarding federal crimes.
“At no time has anyone at the Department communicated to me that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is, was, or should be the subject of a criminal investigation or should be charged with any federal crime related to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). As U.S. Attorney I would be aware of such an investigation,” Moran said.
On Wednesday, The Times reported that Barr told federal prosecutors during a phone call last week to consider charging rioters and looters disrupting peaceful protests with sedition, as well as to explore if Durkan could be charged for allowing some residents to establish a police-free area.
Under US law, sedition charges are brought against those who overthrow or destroy the United States’ government by force.
A department spokesman told the paper late Wednesday that accusations that Barr directed the civil rights division to explore this idea were false.
Representatives for the attorney general could not be reached for comment by The Post early Thursday morning.
In June, left-wing radicals took over Seattle’s Capitol Hill district, which they declared would be a police-free zone.
The leaderless six-block zone — known as the CHAZ, or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, before it was renamed CHOP for Capitol Hill Occupation Protest — quickly spiraled into violence and chaos, which resulted in a pair of shootings that killed two black teens.
After the shootings, Durkan said that officials would move to wind down the autonomous protest zone.
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents. The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased,” she said in July.
In response to The Times’ report, Durkan took to Twitter to slam the attorney general.
“This report is chilling and the latest abuse of power from the Trump administration. This is not a story about me. It’s about the how this President and his Attorney General are willing to subvert the law and use the DOJ for political purposes,” she wrote in one of a series of posts.
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