The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is part of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) responsible for investigating attorneys employed by the DOJ who have been accused of misconduct or crimes in their professional functions. The OPR promulgates independent standards of ethical and criminal conduct for DOJ attorneys, while the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has jurisdiction of non-attorney DOJ employees. Corey Amundson became the head of the Office of Professional Responsibility in September, 2018.
The important point is this: OIG, while part of the DoJ, has an independent basis in federal law. OPR has no statutorily independent basis. That doesn't mean that OIG can't be pressured or interfered with by an AG or his DAG (think: Rod Rosenstein), but the OIG has a stronger ground for independent action that steps on political toes than does OPR. Looking forward, the names of Mueller and his entire team of attorneys arise. This helps explain the regular calls for the investigation of the Russia Hoax to be turned over to a US Attorney who can empanel a Grand Jury. Oh, wait--John Durham!
This division has long been a source of of accusations of favorable/lenient treatment of attorneys, often done secretly, i.e., with no public release of findings. This was famously the case with Andrew Weissmann, as recounted by Sidney Powell (Michael Flynn's new lawyer, author of Licensed To Lie). This also suggests that Bruce Ohr's case, for example, is being handled by OPR, as would then probably be the case with all the other DoJ attorneys (prominently David Laufmann and Rod Rosenstein) involved in the Russia Case, including FBI attorneys such as James Baker, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Trisha Anderson, Lisa Page, and quite a few more. I may be missing some jurisdictional nuances here, but we need to be aware of this.
As you can imagine, this restriction on OIG--unique to DoJ's OIG--has long been a sore point for Michael Horowitz. Back in January, 2019, the Miami Herald carried a story that addressed this controversial division of responsibilities in the context of the Epstein case as it was handled by then US Attorney in Miami, Alex Acosta. Acosta is currently the Secretary of Labor. Here are the relevant paragraphs from the Herald's story (Justice Dept. watchdog: Change law to let me probe Acosta’s Jeffrey Epstein plea deal), which address the division of responsibilities between OIG and OPR:
The U.S. Department of Justice’s inspector general urged Congress on Tuesday to allow him to investigate Alex Acosta — the former U.S. attorney in Miami whose controversial 2008 plea deal with a politically connected serial sex abuser has led to calls for Acosta to resign as secretary of labor.
Acosta’s unusual non-prosecution agreement with hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein may finally provide the turning point in a 30-year quest by the DOJ’s inspector general’s office to oversee and investigate Justice Department attorneys.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, responding to a request last month by lawmakers demanding a probe into the Epstein case, said that while “important questions” have been raised about how Epstein’s case was resolved by the DOJ, the inspector general has long lacked the power to investigate his own lawyers.
Unlike other federal agencies, the Justice Department insulates its lawyers from congressional and public scrutiny by directing internal affairs investigations to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which rarely releases its findings.
“Over the past 30 years, my three predecessors as DOJ Inspector General and I have objected to this limitation on the [inspector general’s] jurisdiction because it shields prosecutorial misconduct from review by a statutorily independent Office of Inspector General,’’ Horowitz wrote.
Once again, I suspect that none of this is happening without Bill Barr's OK. No wonder so many people in Washington are so afraid of Barr. He appears to be going about doing the right things with no fuss or publicity, but also without delay.
UPDATE: Two quotes from smart observers. The first is from Mickey Kaus' new blog (h/t Monica Showalter):
Where Undernews Was, MSM Shall Be: If they’re really going after financier Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking of minors, maybe we’ll finally get answers to the two great mysteries of this case, a case that has been bubbling furiously in the Undernews for decades. 1) How does Epstein make his money? Supposedly he’s just an ace trader/hedge funder with billionaire clients. OK! But many Wall Street types are skeptical he is actually financing his unbelievable lifestyle this way. (“The trading desks don’t seem to know him.”) Alternative theories abound. 2) How much of America’s ruling class is involved? We know Bill Clinton has some splainin’ to do. But I don’t think his relationship with Epstein can account for all the heat that has been applied to various prosecutors along the way. As Ann Coulter said, in what remains the best short summary of the case, “This is not just a Clinton sex scandal; this is the elites getting cozy and covering up and protecting one another. It also involves the Bush administration ...." It’s a bad French movie come to life.
The second (h/t Kaus) is from Ann Coulter on Hannity in January, 2015. Ann provides an easy to digest summary from a legal standpoint. And ...
This is a really important story. ... This is not just a Clinton sex scandal; this is the elites getting cozy and covering up and protecting one another. It also involves the Bush administration, it involves Ken Starr, the lawyers for Epstein.
There are some facts that are absolutely known, there are some that are only allegations right now. But the basic story is that ... Palm Beach police staged a very detailed investigation without Epstein's knowledge.
.... The evidence was quite strong and the ... prosecutor ... wants to just give him a little ticket, just pay ten dollars and that's enough for having sex with these underage girls, that's of course statutory rape in Florida.
The Palm Beach police went mental after they staged this investigation and put all the evidence together. So they went to the federal government. That's where this case comes involved. The U.S. Attorney ... just these astonishing attacks that his office came under from Jeffrey Epstein's defense team including Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, Roy Black, all of the legal dream team.
The prosecutors private's lives were investigated and according to the U.S. Attorney they were just pressured, jerked around, everything was appealed. Eventually they get Epstein to agree to plead guilty to a state charge, ...
There is a federal law sponsored by, among others, [Former] Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and it says victims are asking for, could we please just have the rights of criminals. They want to be notified as a case is going forward. None of that happened in this case. A secret agreement was struck. The documents are under seal. A no prosecution agreement against not only Epstein but his lawyers and all these other friends of his. They are suing under that, they can open this case again. They could breach the no prosecution.
That case has been going on since 2008.
... This is not a frivolous case. So keep following this case.
And the fact that thus far this has only been covered on Fox News is shocking. This is not a political thing. ... This is the elites circling the wagon and protecting a pederast. It's a shocking case and that's just the known facts.