More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials signed on to a letter Sunday that called for the resignation of Attorney General William Barr.
Barr has faced criticism over the handling of sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone, the longtime Republican adviser and Trump ally, who was convicted last year on seven counts related to his involvement in the Mueller investigation.
Prosecutors had initially recommended a seven-to-nine year sentence, though the DOJ would later call the recommendations "excessive" not long after angry tweets from President Trump.
Over 2,000 former officials at the US Department of Justice have called on US Attorney General William Barr to resign over the DOJ's handling of Roger Stone's sentencing, arguing he acted politically while intervening to reduce Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation.
The letter, published on Sunday, is signed by former DOJ personnel who worked under Republican and Democrat presidents, was published through Medium on Sunday. The statement was organized through Project Democracy, a watchdog organization founded in 2017 by former White House and DOJ officials that aims to monitor abuses of power in government, and is part of its goal to protect law enforcement agencies from political interference.
"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," letter read. "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."
While the number of former DOJ officials who had signed on to the Project Democracy letter was more than 1,000 on Sunday, about another 1,000 had signed on by Tuesday, bringing the total to 2,003 signatures.
In 2019, Republican adviser and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone was convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress, making false statements to investigators, and witness tampering during former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russ ain interference in the 2016 election.
Federal prosecutors in the case recommended for Stone a seven-to-nine year sentence, saying it was "consistent with the Guidelines is appropriate based on the nature and extent of Stone's conduct, the length of time it transpired," Business Insider previously reported.
President Donald Trump defended Stone in a series of tweets early last week.
"This is a horrible and very unfair situation," Trump said last Monday. "The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"
By Tuesday, the DOJ updated the sentencing recommendation — just one day after the initial one — calling the seven-to-nine year sentence possibly "excessive and unwarranted," deferring to the court to determine a sentence for Stone.
Following the DOJ's new guidance, the entire team of four prosecutors pursuing the case against Stone to withdrew from the case.
"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," the authors of the letter said.
Some federal prosecutors told The New York Times they were uneasy about pursuing cases related to President Trump and his allies, citing fears that Trump-appointed Barr would not protect their political independence in cases where the president took a particular interest.
In an ABC News interview on Thursday, Barr called out the president's tweets and urged him to stop tweeting about Justice Department criminal cases.
"I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said, whether it's Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president," Barr said. "I'm going to do what I think is right. And you know…I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me."
While the former officials who signed the letter Sunday acknowledged Barr's statements, they said that "Mr. Barr's actions in doing the President's personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words."
The former DOJ officials also called upon the other branches of government to protect those who report behaviors they view as inappropriate or against their oath of office.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Justice returned Business Insider's requests for comment on the letter.
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