The House committee is investigating Barr’s decision-making as well.
After Elias discussed it in the hearing, a memo obtained by CNN further showed the route that the whistleblower complaints on the cannabis investigations took.
Elias and another anonymous whistleblower took their concerns to Justice’s inspector general and the Office of Special Counsel, another agency positioned to receive whistleblower complaints. The special counsel’s office, which is not related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, referred the complaint it received to the Justice Department’s internal Office of Professional Responsibility, which responded on June 11 that it didn’t believe there was a reason for it to investigate and closed its probe.
The Antitrust Division allegedly, “at the direction of the Attorney General’s Office, placed these demands on merging cannabis companies in order to slow the growth of the cannabis industry due to DOJ leadership’s animosity towards the industry,” according to a letter from the Office of Professional Responsibility summarizing the complaints.
The Office of Professional Responsibility determined the antitrust scrutiny of the companies “was reasonable” and “would not have violated any relevant laws, regulations, rules, policies, or guidelines,” office Director Jeffrey Ragsdale wrote
, essentially defending Barr. Ragsdale had earned Barr’s appointment to the position less than a month earlier.
The office’s finding “is perplexing to me,” Elias said during his testimony.
Elias’ lawyer, David Seide of the Government Accountability Project, said after the hearing Wednesday that the investigations independent of the Department of Justice were ongoing.
“It’s not over, and it has a long ways to go,” Seide said.