Former U.S. Department of Justice officials have called in a public letter for the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, a close associate of President Donald Trump who was convicted of seven counts of so-called Russian drug trafficking, following his handling of the Roger Stone case.
The letter, which excerpts were published Sunday by local media, was signed by more than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and officials.
“Mr. Barr’s actions in obeying the president’s personal orders unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the letter quoted by The Washington Post said”.
The former employees point out that “those actions and the damage they have done to the reputation of the Justice Department, to its integrity and to the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.
And in acknowledging that they have “little expectation” that the attorney general will leave his post, they point out that “it is incumbent upon the Department’s career officers to take appropriate action” to uphold “apolitical, non-partisan” justice.
The New York Times said a Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
The request comes after four prosecutors handling the court case against Stone filed their resignations Tuesday after Trump criticized the penalty they had requested for his former adviser and the Justice Department recommended a reduction.
One of the prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, wrote in a document presented to the court that he had resigned as an assistant U.S. attorney and planned to leave the government, while the other three involved in the case asked a judge for permission to withdraw from the process against Stone, who was convicted of seven charges in 2019.
Prosecutors did not clarify why they wanted to drop the case, but their resignation came just hours after the president called their plan to demand seven to nine years in prison for Stone, who was a close associate of Trump at the start of his election campaign in 2015, “horrible and very unfair.
Two days later, Thursday, Barr said the president’s criticism is making it “impossible” for him to do his job and warned that he will not be “intimidated or influenced by anyone”.
The attorney general’s statement during an interview with ABC did not fall on deaf ears and Trump on Friday claimed his “legal right” to interfere in cases being handled by the Justice Department.
Also on Friday, the Justice Department revealed that it did not charge former FBI director Andrew McCabe, considered one of Trump’s enemies, with lying to investigators about a news leak.
When he was acting director of the FBI, McCabe authorized the agency to investigate Trump in 2017, making him a frequent target of the president’s anger on Twitter.
Similarly, Barr ordered outside prosecutors that day to review the handling by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington of the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and other cases, The New York Times said.
Flynn was one of the first people to plead guilty during special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into the so-called Russian plot, which involved inquiries into Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.