Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, White House, May 2019 (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post)
More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign over his political intervention in criminal cases involving Donald Trump’s friends, campaign staff, and foreign contacts.
The statement was posted on-line on Sunday:
We, the undersigned, are alumni of the United States Department of Justice who have collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice…..
Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.
But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department’s career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice.
The signatories include career prosecutors and political appointees. They have written after a series of revelations of the Attorney General’s actions on behalf of Trump.
*Hours after Trump’s tweet of a “miscarriage of justice” over the conviction of his long-time friend and dirty tricks operator Roger Stone, Barr order a new Justice Department to overturn the recommendation of four prosecutors for a sentence of 7 to 9 years for witness tampering and lying to Congress.
*Barr appointed an outside team to review other cases, including the conviction and impending sentencing of Michael Flynn, Trump’s senior campaign staffer and first National Security Advisor.
Flynn was convicted of lying to investigators about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, promising action over the Obama Administration’s sanctions on Moscow.
*After Trump’s promise to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Barr tried to prevent the indictment of Turkey’s state-run Halkbank on charges of circumventing US sanctions on Iran, transferring billions of dollars in currency and gold to Tehran.
*Barr has set up inquiries into the FBI and US intelligence agencies over their pursuit of the Trump-Russia investigation.
“Government as Autocracy”
The former Justice Department officials explain:
All DOJ lawyers…stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.
And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes.
They summarize, “Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.”
The officials stand by the four prosecutors who withdrew from the Stone case after Barr’s intervention, and “call on every DOJ employee to follow their heroic example”.
*”Report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress”
*”Refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office”
*”Withdraw from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary, to resign and report publicly — in a manner consistent with professional ethics — to the American people the reasons for their resignation”
Emergency Meeting of Judges
The Justice Department has refused to comment on the statement from the officials.
Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tried to turn around Trump and Barr’s attempted tipping of the scales of justice by 180 degrees:
I think that the President’s frustration is one that a lot of Americans have, which feels like the scales of justice are not balancing….
What we have been seeing again and again is that the Department of Justice has been politicized and the Attorney General Barr is trying to correct it.
But 1,000 federal judges have called an emergency meeting for Tuesday over the Trump-Barr interventions.
Philadelphia US District Judge Cynthia Rufe, head of the Federal Judges Association, said the organization “could not wait” until its spring conference to discuss the crisis.