Barr and other top Justice officials then pushed for a softer prison recommendation in a revised filing that offered no specific sentence term, though the attorney general has said he didn’t speak to the president about it. The sentencing is set for Thursday, though the judge has set a conference call with the lawyers in the case for Tuesday.
“Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice. 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,” the online petition read.
Signatures for the letter were gathered by Protect Democracy, a nonprofit legal group that had also gathered signatures for a letter claiming the Mueller report presented enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. That letter was also critical of Barr.
The petition’s signatories include Justice Department employees dating to the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, though most are of more recent vintage. Among them are three who served as assistant attorney general: Sanford Litvack, Jimmy Gurule and Laurie Robinson. The total is 1,143, though Protect Democracy said it would continue to add names.
The former Justice Department employees welcomed Barr’s “belated acknowledgment that the DOJ’s law enforcement decisions must be independent of politics.” On Thursday, Barr had offered a rare rebuke of his boss, telling ABC, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”
However, the online petition read, “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.”
Since they said they had little expectation Barr would step down, the former employees called on the Justice Department’s career officials to report unethical conduct. They applauded the prosecutors for upholding their oaths and standing up for the department’s independence.
“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.”