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Judges' association calls emergency meeting in wake of Stone sentencing reversal

The independent Federal Judges Association is planning an emergency meeting to address issues stemming from the Justice Department's decision to intervene in the case involving Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE, a longtime ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE

Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, president of the group, told USA Today that it “could not wait” until its spring conference to discuss the recent decisions made within the department and that its executive committee would convene a conference call on Tuesday after the department backtracked on its recommendation for Stone's sentence. 

“There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, told the newspaper, noting that the group called for the meeting after Trump railed against the initial sentencing recommendation Stone received. 

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The group, which includes more than 1,100 federal jurists, did not immediately return a request for further comment from The Hill. 

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrNew DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Five federal inmates scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day MORE and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are facing mounting scrutiny from lawmakers and former DOJ officials over the perception that Trump influenced their actions on Stone. 

After the DOJ asked a judge last week for a lighter prison sentence for Stone than the seven to nine years that was initially recommended, the four federal prosecutors assigned to the case all resigned from it, with one leaving the DOJ altogether.

Prosecutors had told a judge that Stone should serve seven to nine years in prison for lying to Congress and obstruction. But one day later, the Justice Department said that the recommendation did not "accurately reflect" its position following vehement criticism from Trump. 

Trump also targeted D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the Stone case, after the prosecutors' resignations, suggesting that she had treated his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFlynn spurs questions of who Trump might pardon next On The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges to NY high court MORE, unfairly. 

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Manafort was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after he was convicted on charges of bank and tax fraud and pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.

Rufe told USA Today that the Federal Judges Association is “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case." But she offered staunch support for Jackson, saying that the group is "supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.”

Barr has insisted that he did not speak with the White House before altering the sentencing recommendation for Stone, whose trial stemmed from crimes unearthed during former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's investigation. He has since said, however, that Trump's tweets make it "impossible" for him to do his job. 

More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials have signed on to a letter calling for Barr to resign, saying that his "actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words."

The letter also calls on career officials to follow the "heroic example" set by the prosecutors who resigned from Stone's case and to be prepared to report "future abuse." 

The Federal Judges Association was founded in 1982 and is a voluntary association that includes officers and directors from appeals and district courts around the country. The group's mission is to "sustain our system of justice through civics education and public outreach," according to its website