Anti-Trump, Obama Alumni Group Launches Campaign to Oust AG Barr

US Attorney General William Barr missed a May 6, 2019 deadline to provide a complete copy of the special counsel's report on Russian election interference, prompting the House Judiciary Committe to announce proceedings to hold him in contempt of Congress
© AFP/File Nicholas Kamm

An anti-Trump group formed by former Obama administration officials has launched a campaign to get Attorney General William Barr to step down following his decision to revisit the sentencing of President Donald Trump ally Roger Stone for his conviction for witness tampering.

Protect Democracy is led by Ian Bassin, who served as counsel for the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011. Board member Cecilia Munoz served as the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

The group stated its mission is fighting the Trump administration because of its threat to democracy.

In the letter, signees describe the federal prosecutors who stepped down from the Rogers case as “heroic:”

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 the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. 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.

For these reasons, we support and commend the four career prosecutors who upheld their oaths and stood up for the Department’s independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning from the Department. Our simple message to them is that 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; 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.

But if you read reports from CNN, CBS, NPR and other media outlets, one would get the impression that the good men and women who served their country at DOJ have risen up in a bipartisan effort to fight Barr and Trump’s effort to undermine the U.S. justice system.

CBS reported the letter campaign as coming from DOJ “alumni:”

The Justice Department alumni made their request to Barr in an open letter published Sunday and said the move by top officials at the department to overrule federal prosecutors in Stone’s case was “unheard of.”

“Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice,” the former officials wrote. “In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the president. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.”

The crisis of confidence that has ensnared the Justice Department reached a fever pitch last week after Barr overruled federal prosecutors who recommended Stone receive seven to nine years in prison for his November conviction on seven charges. The intervention led four prosecutors to abruptly withdraw from the case, and one resigned from the department altogether.

CNN reported that those signing onto the letter worked for both Republican and Democrat administrations:

“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 the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. 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,” the officials wrote in a statement.

The rare statement from the officials — mostly former career prosecutors, but also some former political appointees — came in the wake of an extraordinary week at the Justice Department. In just one week, career prosecutors withdrew from a case after Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation, the attorney general pushed back against the President in an unusual interview and separately ordered an examination of politically charged cases involving those close to President Donald Trump.

Aside from omitting the facts about who is behind the effort to oust Barr, the media also left out how anti-Trump pundits are also part of the effort, the Daily Caller reported:

Eight legal analysts who work for CNN and MSNBC or appear frequently on the networks signed a petition Sunday calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign over his handling of Roger Stone’s case.

CNN analysts and former federal prosecutors Elie Honig and Renato Mariotti signed the petition, which has more than 1,140 signatures.

MSNBC analysts Paul Butler, Frank Figliuzzi, Matthew Miller and Jill Wine-Banks also signed the document, which was compiled by Protect Democracy, a nonprofit group staunchly opposed to President Donald Trump. Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor who appears frequently on MSNBC, and Mimi Rocah, a former prosecutor who recently left MSNBC to run for a district attorney position, also signed the petition.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, where he will likely be pressed by Democrats about Stone as well as other issues.
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