Two independent watchers investigating Justice Department leaders in cannabis investigation, whistleblower says

During his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, the lawyer for the Antitrust Division John Elias revealed on Wednesday the existence of the investigations, carried out by the independent inspector general of the Department of Justice and the Office of Special Counsel of the executive branch, in the upper echelons of Attorney General William Barr. Justice Department. Elias said he was one of two whistleblowers reporting troublesome Department of Justice lawsuits from cannabis providers who were interested in merging.

CNN has contacted the Office of Special Counsel and the Justice Department inspector general for more information.

The recently revealed investigations may put Barr’s leadership under increased scrutiny, as he faces widespread criticism from past and current prosecutors in recent weeks over police decisions that benefit friends of President Donald Trump and potentially his re-election campaign.

The House committee is also investigating Barr’s decision making.

After Elias discussed it at the hearing, a memo obtained by CNN further showed the route that whistleblower complaints took on cannabis investigations.

Elias and another anonymous whistleblower raised their concerns with the Inspector General of Justice and the Office of the Special Adviser, another agency in a position to receive whistleblower complaints. The special counsel’s office, unrelated to the investigation of former special adviser Robert Mueller, forwarded the complaint it received to the Justice Department’s internal Office of Professional Responsibility, which responded on June 11 that it did not believe there was a reason. for it. investigate and closed your probe.

The Antitrust Division allegedly, “under the direction of the Attorney General’s Office, placed these demands on the merger of cannabis companies to slow the growth of the cannabis industry due to the animosity of the Justice Department’s leadership towards the industry,” according to a letter from the Office of Professional Responsibility summarizing the complaints.

The Office of Professional Responsibility determined that the companies’ antitrust scrutiny “was reasonable” and “would not have violated any relevant law, regulation, regulation, policy or guideline,” wrote the office’s director, Jeffrey Ragsdale, essentially defending Barr. Ragsdale had earned Barr’s appointment for the position less than a month earlier.

The office’s finding “puzzles me,” Elias said during his testimony.

Elias’ lawyer David Seide of the Government Accountability Project said after the hearing on Wednesday that independent investigations by the Justice Department were ongoing.

“It is not over, and it has a long way to go,” Seide said.