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EXCLUSIVE: Attorney General William Barr on Thursday denied reports that the Department of Justice is seeking new emergency powers for itself amid the coronavirus outbreak that would suspend certain rights in criminal matters and potentially detain people indefinitely without trial, saying, “It’s cockamamie nonsense.”
“It’s a gross mischaracterization,” Barr told Fox News during a telephone interview.
The Justice Department has faced a backlash from some lawmakers after news reports first surfaced this week saying the department was seeking to suspend certain rights: Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., tweeted, “More power to the so-called Attorney General? PASS.” Some Republicans pushed back too, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who simply tweeted, “OVER MY DEAD BODY.”
But Barr said Thursday the Department of Justice never proposed any expansion of its own power, but rather was asked by lawmakers on Capitol Hill for suggestions about giving judges more flexibility to adjust schedules while many courts are closing or scaling back operations during the coronavirus crisis.
“The whole legal system is rife with deadlines,” Barr said. “You have so many days