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Politics More than 1,100 ex-Justice Department officials call for Barr’s resignation

16:40  16 february  2020
16:40  16 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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WASHINGTON — More than 1 , 100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday to step down after he intervened last week to lower the Justice Department ’ s sentencing recommendation for President Trump’ s longtime friend

In more than three dozen interviews in recent days, lawyers across the federal government’s legal establishment wondered aloud whether Mr. Barr ’ s effort this week to scale back those expectations, officials said, was born of necessity. “ I hope there are no more resignations ,” Mr. Barr said.

More than 1,100 former Justice Department employees signed a public letter Sunday urging Attorney General William P. Barr to resign over his handling of the case of President Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone — and exhorted current department employees to report any unethical conduct.

a close up of a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: Attorney General William Barr waves after speaking at a National Sheriffs' Association conference in Washington on Feb. 10.© Susan Walsh/AP Attorney General William Barr waves after speaking at a National Sheriffs' Association conference in Washington on Feb. 10.

The letter is the latest sign of a crisis of confidence inside the department. Four prosecutors quit the Stone case last week after Barr and other Justice Department leaders pushed for a softer prison recommendation for Stone, who is due to be sentenced this week.

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The four prosecutors had originally recommended a prison sentence of seven to nine years for Stone after he was convicted of lying to Congress and obstruction. The president publicly attacked that recommendation, and at Barr’s urging the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memo suggesting Stone should receive less prison time.

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Barr has said he did not talk to the president about the Stone sentence, but current and former Justice Department officials have sharply criticized the attorney general.

“Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the Justice Department alumni wrote in the letter posted online. “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.”

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Signatures for the letter were gathered by Protect Democracy, a group that has been critical of Barr’s handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian election interference and Trump.

The letter acknowledges there is little chance the signatories’ criticism will lead to Barr’s departure, adding, “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.”

The letter calls on every Justice Department employee to follow the “heroic” example of the four prosecutors who quit the Stone case “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.”

The letter calls for similar vigilance in other government agencies, adding, “The rule of law and the survival of our Republic demand nothing less.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

In an interview Thursday with ABC News, Barr said Trump’s commentary makes it “impossible for me to do my job.”

devlin.barrett@washpost.com


U.S. Senate Republicans overwhelmingly support Barr: McConnell .
U.S. Senate Republicans overwhelmingly support Barr: McConnellBarr has their "overwhelming support," McConnell told reporters after Senate Republicans met with the attorney general, who faced criticism after the Department of Justice recently moved to overrule career prosecutors in a case involving the sentencing of Trump adviser Roger Stone.

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