A group of former Justice Department employees called on Attorney General William Barr to resign Sunday, citing his handling of the sentencing of President Donald Trump's associate Roger Stone.. Photo by Chris KleponisUPI | License Photo
Feb. 16 (UPI) -- More than 1,100 former Justice Department officials called on Attorney General William Barr to resign in a statement released Sunday.
The group, including officials who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, condemned Barr and Trump's "interference in the fair administration of justice" specifically citing Barr's handling of the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone.
"Mr. Barr's actions in doing the president's personal bidding, unfortunately, speak louder than his words. Those actions and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice's Reputation for integrity and rule of law require Mr. Barr to resign," the officials wrote. "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."
Prosecutors last week asked a federal judge to sentence Stone, 67, to up to nine years in prison for obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election but the Justin Department then decreased the sentence after Trump tweeted about his displeasure with the decision.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec denied any communication between the White House and the department about the sentencing recommendation, saying department leadership decided to lower the prison term recommendation after the court filing became available Monday evening.
Barr also denied that Trump "has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case" but publicly called on the president to stop tweeting about Justice Department cases.
"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," the officials wrote. "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."
The officials also commended the actions of four of the federal prosecutors working on the Stone case -- Adam Jed, Jonathan Kravis, Michael Marando and Aaron S.J. Zelinsky -- who quit after the decision to change the sentencing.
"Our simple message to them is we -- and millions of other Americans -- stand with them. And we call on every DOJ employee to follow their heroic example and be prepared to report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress," they wrote.