Former Federal Prosecutors Demand DC US Attorney Resist Political Interference

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Attorney General William Barr participates in a press conference at the Department of Justice on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barr announced the indictment of four members of Chi... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Attorney General William Barr participates in a press conference at the Department of Justice on February 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barr announced the indictment of four members of China's military on charges of hacking into Equifax Inc. and stealing data from millions of Americans. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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February 28, 2020 10:45 a.m.

A group of former D.C. federal prosecutors demanded in an open letter that U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea state that his office won’t be used as a political tool against President Trump’s enemies.

The letter, released Thursday, asks Shea to “resist any and all political interference by either the President or the Attorney General” and to clarify that his office won’t become a “tool used to favor the politically connected and punish the perceived enemies of the Administration.”

The message, signed by more than 60 former federal prosecutors and first reported by the Washington Post, comes in the aftermath of Attorney General Bill Barr’s effort to intervene in the prosecution of Trump adviser Roger Stone.

The prosecutors cite “significant alarm and concern that the Office’s independence, devoid of political influence, is in grave and imminent peril.”

“The intervention by the Attorney General and the President, the withdrawal of good and honorable assistants (one of whom has resigned altogether from the Office) have created the perception that political interest has been married to substantive prosecutorial decisions at the highest level, and that the Office no longer is able, nor can it be trusted, to act independently,” the letter reads.

A DOJ spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment from TPM.

President Trump and Barr set off a firestorm over the Justice Department’s independence earlier this month as Stone’s sentencing plodded along. Four federal prosecutors on Stone’s case resigned after Barr demanded that the government reduce its sentencing recommendation from a range of 7–9 years behind bars.

The effort resulted in the government issuing a second sentencing memorandum that asked for no particular sentence, as well as a wave of criticism that has yet to abate.

The attorney general later attributed the fiasco to a “miscommunication” between himself and Shea.

“It is hard not to conclude that the President and AG Barr are completely disregarding and, indeed undermining, the fine work and efforts of prosecutors in our Office, impugning their integrity, authority and autonomy,” the letter reads.

Read the letter here:

 

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