Feb 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Over 1,100 former DOJ officials call for Barr's resignation

Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials who have served both Republican and Democratic administrations have signed onto a statement condemning Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the sentencing of President Trump's associate Roger Stone, arguing that his actions "require" him to resign.

The big picture: Barr is facing widespread condemnation from Democrats for taking a hands-on role in a number of politically sensitive investigations, including the Stone case, a review of the origins of the Russia probe, and most recently the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

  • Barr's conduct, in tandem with Trump's insistence that he has a "legal right" to ask the attorney general to intervene in criminal cases, has prompted a number of Democrats to call for his resignation.
  • In an interview with ABC News last week, Barr said that he would not "bullied or influenced" by anyone, including the president, and that Trump's tweets about Justice Department cases "make it impossible" for him to do his job.

Details: The statement notes that all DOJ employees took an oath to apply the law "equally to all Americans" and that the department's rulebook states that its legal decisions "must be impartial and insulated from political influence."

  • "All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They 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."
  • "We welcome Attorney General Barr’s belated acknowledgment that the DOJ’s law enforcement decisions must be independent of politics; that it is wrong for the President to interfere in specific enforcement matters, either to punish his opponents or to help his friends; and that the President’s public comments on DOJ matters have gravely damaged the Department’s credibility."

The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Barr says Trump's Stone tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job"

Go deeper

Judges group calls emergency meeting on Roger Stone case intervention

President Trump with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House last July. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Judges Association told USA Today the independent group called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address "growing concerns" about the Department of Justice, Attorney General Bill Barr, President Trump and the intervention of "politically sensitive cases."

Why it matters: This is another example of the scrutiny Barr is facing from not only Democrats but also members of the legal community — from both sides of the political aisle — following his intervention in the sentencing of President Trump's associate Roger Stone last week.

GOP congressional leaders issue statement defending Bill Barr

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Tuesday in support of Attorney General William Barr.

Why it matters: More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials have called on Barr to resign for his role in politically sensitive investigations, after he intervened in the case of Trump associate Roger Stone.

Reports: Barr is considering leaving over Trump's tweets

Attorney General Bill Barr during a Detroit event in December. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Bill Barr's spokesperson tweeted Tuesday night the "Attorney General has no plans to resign" after multiple reports said he's considering leaving the administration over President Trump's tweets on the Justice Department.

Between the lines, per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Barr has made clear to Trump, both publicly and, repeatedly, in private conversations, that he can’t do his job if the president keeps publicly commenting on Justice Department criminal cases. Trump chose to ignore that warning on Tuesday, and a source familiar with the situation said it made a bad situation worse.

Flashback: Barr: Trump's Roger Stone tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job"