Feb 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sally Yates: Trump used DOJ "as a cudgel against his enemies"

Sally Yates. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates accused President Trump of using the Justice Department "as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies" in a Washington Post op-ed Friday.

Why it matters: Yates served in the DOJ under President Obama and stayed on as a holdover as acting attorney general until she was fired less than two weeks into Trump's presidency for refusing to implement the president's travel ban.

  • She testified in 2017 that she warned White House counsel that former national security adviser Michael Flynn misled officials about his discussions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

What she's saying:

  • "President Trump has attempted to use the Justice Department as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies."
  • "The president has attempted to order up investigations of his perceived political enemies and enlist the department to protect his friends. With every blow, the wall of Justice independence has wobbled a bit more. This week, it teetered on the verge of collapse."
  • On the Justice Department's reversal of its sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone, Yates wrote: "This is not how the department is supposed to operate. Back-and-forth between prosecutors and department leadership about a high-profile matter is not itself unusual. But for Justice leadership to order the reversal of a publicly filed sentencing recommendation in a politically sensitive case is unprecedented."
  • She continued: "Regardless of whether the decision to reverse the prosecutors was made before the president tweeted, action in anticipation of the president’s reaction is as dangerous as action in response to it."

The bottom line: "The Justice Department is not a tool of any president to be used for retribution or camouflage. In all of government, the Justice Department uniquely functions in a trusted bond with Americans to dispense justice without fear or favor."

Go deeper

NYT: Barr assigned outside prosecutor to monitor Flynn case

Michael Flynn. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to monitor the Justice Department's ongoing case against President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The move could trigger additional accusations of political interference at the Justice Department, especially for extremely sensitive cases involving former Trump allies.

Roger Stone sentenced to more than 3 years in prison

Roger Stone arriving for his sentencing hearing. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Why it matters: Stone is the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. His case has been at the heart of ongoing tensions between President Trump and his Justice Department.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 20, 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.