The Slatest

1,100 Former DOJ Lawyers Call on Barr to Resign for Interference in Stone Sentencing

Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice.
Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice on Feb. 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

More than 1,100 former prosecutors and officials at the Department of Justice called on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign Sunday after he intervened in the case of Roger Stone to reduce the recommended sentence of President Trump’s longtime friend and quasi-adviser. The former DOJ employees expressed outrage in an open letter at Barr’s intervention after Trump tweeted his disapproval of the nine-year sentence recommended by prosecutors in the case where Stone had been convicted of seven felonies. “Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding… 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,” the letter reads.

The former Justice Department employees, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, said Trump’s tweet and Barr’s subsequent intervention was counter to the established procedural norms of the DOJ. “The Department has a long-standing practice in which political appointees set broad policies that line prosecutors apply to individual cases. That practice exists to animate the constitutional principles regarding the even-handed application of the law,” the former Justice employees wrote. “Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case.”

The officials offered their support for the four prosecutors who resigned from the case. Since they considered Barr’s resignation unlikely, the signatories suggested alternative means of expressing dissent and resisting inappropriate influence from the Trump White House: “[W]e call on every DOJ employee to follow their heroic example and be prepared to report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress; to refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to 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.”