In an open letter published Sunday, former officials for the Department of Justice called on Attorney General William Barr to resign over the handling of the Roger Stone case.
“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,” said the statement. “It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.”
A DOJ spox declined comment to The New York Times. The petition comes spearheaded by Project Democracy. It presents itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit group. This isn’t the first time it published an anti-Trump open letter from experts on Medium.
The petition’s authors voice doubt Barr would actually resign for doing the president’s “personal bidding.”
“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,” they write. “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.”
More than 1,100 names appear on the new petition as of Sunday afternoon.
Stone, a Trump surrogate during the 2016 presidential election, was convicted of witness tampering, obstructing justice, and lying to Congress. The prosecutors in the case recommended that the 67-year-old spend seven-to-nine years prison, but President Donald Trump complained on Twitter, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.” The DOJ soon changed its tune, with a senior DOJ official cited as calling the seven-to-nine year recommended sentence “extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate.”
The DOJ is changing its sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, according to a Senior DOJ official.
“The Department finds seven to nine years extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate,” the source said, adding the DOJ will clarify its position on sentencing later today
— Jake Gibson (@JakeBGibson) February 11, 2020
The four prosecutors in the Stone case stepped back from the case. Barr has publicly chafed about Trump’s tweet, but critics voiced skepticism.
The USAG told ABC that the Trump didn’t tell him to do “anything in a criminal case,” but said he thought “its time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal case.” He maintained his independence as an official. Former intelligence community attorney, Lawfare executive editor and CNN legal analyst Susan Hennessey called this “absolutely nonsense theatrics.”
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Image via Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images]