May 11 (UPI) -- Almost 2,000 former federal prosecutors and members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation published an open letter Monday calling for the resignation of Attorney General William P. Barr over the dropping of the Michael Flynn case in federal court.
Former U.S. Department of Justice and FBI officials, identifying themselves as both Republicans and Democrats, said Barr's decision to drop prosecution of Flynn, President Donald Trump's first national security advisor, was a case of using "the Department as a tool to further President Trump's personal and political interests," the letter said.
"Make no mistake: The Department's action is extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented," the letter added. "If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it."
Last week, Barr's prosecutors asked a U.S. District judge to dismiss the charge of making false statements to the FBI with prejudice against Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general.
Co-signers of the letter said Barr earlier overruled sentencing recommendations to seek favorable treatment for President Trump's close associate, Roger Stone, showing that Barr was doing the president's bidding as Attorney General.
"[Barr's actions flout] the core principle that politics must never enter into the Department's law enforcement decisions and undermined its mission to ensure equal justice under the law," the letter said.
Co-signers included former federal prosecutors and some former presidential appointees. The highest-ranking signee was Stuart Gerson, who served during the Clinton administration as acting attorney general, NBC News reported.
The letter urged District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, who's in charge of the Flynn case, to examine the DOJ's rationale for dismissing the charges, and to hold hearings with witnesses if necessary, then to "deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate."
Along with urging Barr's resignation, the group urged Congress to reschedule a House Judiciary Committee meeting to censure Barr, "and demand that he answer for his abuses of power."
In 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn admitted he made false statements regarding meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
In January, Barr's Justice Department changed its sentencing recommendation from probation for Flynn to six months in prison, saying Flynn was unrepentant. A week later, Flynn asked to withdraw his guilty plea, saying prosecutors broke the plea agreement when they requested jail time.
In withdrawing the prosecution, Barr and conservative supporters said FBI handwritten notes, released last month, by a federal judge, suggested that he "goal" was "to get [Flynn] to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired."
Trump said in March that he was "strongly considering" pardoning Flynn, suggesting that the FBI and DOJ mishandled records related to the case.