Administration

Hundreds of attorneys and judges offer to support any Trump official opposing ‘political misuse of the DOJ’

Hundreds of attorneys and judges are offering support to Justice Department officials who resign or speak out about what they say is “political misuse” of the department by Attorney General William Barr in the lead-up to the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

In an open letter, Lawyers Defending American Democracy, a nonpartisan group of legal professionals that includes attorneys and former federal and state judges, say they are expressing their support for Department of Justice (DOJ) officials who “may face difficult choices about participating in political misuse of the DOJ.”  

“The public and these professionals should know that if they stand up to such misuse — whether via resignation, public statements, or other forms of expressive dissent — they will have broad support in the legal profession, whose best traditions they will be upholding,” the group wrote. 

The letter comes after James Herbert, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, spoke out against Barr in The Boston Globe in September over concerns that Barr was politicizing the Justice Department. Herbert said he was inspired to speak out after Barr gave a speech at Hillsdale College, a conservative Michigan institution, in which he claimed virtual absolute power within his agency. 

The Lawyers Defending Democracy wrote that Barr has “increasingly politicized with his public and private actions” and expressed concerns about Barr’s “readiness to influence the upcoming election.” 

They pointed to Barr defending President Trump’s threat to send law enforcement to polling places and warned that Barr’s endorsement of the president’s mail-in ballot fraud claims about the department getting involved in post-election litigation. 

“We support DOJ attorneys and personnel who stand by the oaths and the Department of Justices’ duty to do justice for the public and by not participating in partisan misuse of the DOJ,” the legal professionals wrote. “They honor the rule of law, our profession, and the country as we face this crucial test for our democracy. 

This isn’t the first time legal professionals have spoken out against Barr.

In May, nearly 2,000 former DOJ officials called on Barr to resign after charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn were dropped. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators, but Barr decided to end the investigation. 

The group, some of which include DOJ alumni, previously called for Barr to step down in February after he overruled the sentencing recommendation of Roger Stone, a close Trump associate. 

Tags Bill Barr Donald Trump Roger Stone U.S. Department of Justice William Barr

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