Attorney General Bill Barr pressured the Justice Department’s antitrust division to investigate marijuana companies for “political reasons,” a career official plans to testify on Wednesday according to The New York Times.
John Elias, a senior official at the division, plans to testify that his team was "forced for political reasons to pursue unjustified investigations of the fledgling legal marijuana industry.”
Elias claims in his prewritten opening statement that the DOJ forced 10 investigations because Barr "did not like the nature of their underlying business."
"These mergers involve companies with low market shares in a fragmented industry; they do not meet established criteria for antitrust investigations," the statement said. "While these were nominally antitrust investigations, and used antitrust investigative authorities, they were not bona fide antitrust investigations. Nonetheless, they accounted for 29 percent of the Antitrust Division's full-review merger investigations in Fiscal Year 2019."
Elias said Makam Delrahim, the division head, later "acknowledged that the investigations were motivated by the fact that the cannabis industry is unpopular 'on the fifth floor,' a reference to Attorney General Barr's offices in the D.O.J. headquarters building."
Elias also raised concerns over auto probe:
Elias also plans to testify that a separate investigation into a fuel efficiency deal was also politically motivated.
The DOJ launched an antitrust review after four major automakers struck a deal with California for stronger fuel efficiency after the Trump administration rolled back similar guidelines on the federal level.
Though the division had enough information to close the review in November, the deal drew complaints from Trump on Twitter and “political leadership” asked prosecutors to keep the probe going until February.
Another whistleblower talks Roger Stone:
Elias is set to testify alongside former Bob Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who was one of four prosecutors to quit Roger Stone’s case after the Justice Department intervened and recommended a far more lenient sentence than the one proposed by prosecutors.
"What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president," Zelinsky said in his prewritten opening statement.
The top prosecutor overseeing the case was "was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break," the statement said, and agreed because he was "afraid of the president."