Skip to navigationSkip to content
RUNNING INTERFERENCE

“A grave threat”: More than 1,100 ex-DOJ officials call on Bill Barr to resign

US Attorney General Bill Barr
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Attorney general Bill Barr still leads the US Justice Department—for now.
  • Annabelle Timsit
By Annabelle Timsit

Geopolitics reporter

In a letter released on Medium today, more than 1,100 former employees of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) condemned attorney general Bill Barr for his handling of the case against Roger Stone, a longtime ally of Donald Trump who is accused of obstruction and lying under oath.

“Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice,” the former officials wrote. “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.”

In November, Stone was convicted of witness tampering, lying to the House Intelligence Committee, and obstructing its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The sentencing was set for this month, and on Feb. 10 DOJ prosecutors requested a punishment of seven to nine years.

But Barr intervened, pushing them to recommend a more lenient, unspecified term of incarceration. The decision followed a tweet by the president that criticized the prosecutors’ original recommendation:

US district judge Amy Berman Jackson will have the final word at Stone’s hearing, set for Feb. 20.

The president later praised Barr for intervening on Stone’s behalf, fueling accusations of political interference. All four prosecutors on the Stone case withdrew in protest on Wednesday (Feb. 12), and one of them resigned from his posting with the attorney general’s office. President Trump later targeted the lawyers directly on Twitter. In their letter, the ex-DOJ officials praised them for their decision:

As of this writing, the letter has 1,143 signatories.

“Our simple message to them is that we—and millions of other Americans—stand with them,” the letter said, going on to call on current DOJ employees 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…to the American people the reasons for their resignation.” They also asked them to report any further unethical behavior to relevant authorities, including Congress.

This is the latest in a series of allegations of unethical behavior leveled at Barr. The government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a complaint against him on Friday (Feb. 14) with the Office of the Inspector General. It alleged the way Barr publicly commented on the DOJ probe into the origins of the FBI investigation of Russian interference was “prejudicial” to those involved—and appeared to “violate rules intended to protect due process and privacy interests afforded to persons under investigation by DOJ.”

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.