On Wednesday, a group that is comprised of over 1,000 federal judges will meet to reportedly discuss, among other things, the intervention made by the Department of Justice in the case against Roger Stone, who has been associated with President Trump.
Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe told USA Today that the Federal Judges Association, “could not wait” until its spring conference, adding, “There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about. We’ll talk all of this through.”
President Trump had criticized U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will sentence Stone, tweeting, “Is this the judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”
Rufe, who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush, said the association is “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case,” but added, “I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule. We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.”
On Sunday, over former Justice Department officials signed a letter demanding Barr resign, writing:
All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.
And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes. The Department has a long-standing practice in which political appointees set broad policies that line prosecutors apply to individual cases. That practice exists to animate the constitutional principles regarding the even-handed application of the law.
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. 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.
National Review noted, “Eight legal analysts for CNN and MSNBC are among the signatories of the letter. The petition was compiled by anti-Trump non-profit Protect Democracy.”
Barr responded to the call for his resignation by telling ABC News, “I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody. And I said, whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president, I’m going to do what I think is right.”
On Monday, Senator Lindsey Graham weighed in against Barr’s critics, stating, “‘Bill Barr stepped in and stopped what I thought was an unjust sentence enhancement — and to the people who want Barr to resign, we know your agenda … You are not trying to uphold the rule of law. You’re trying to take a good man down because you hate’ President Trump.”