A number of political observers and legal scholars were alarmed last week as events relating to the president, the Department of Justice, and former Trump adviser Roger Stone, demonstrated a disturbing trend of President Donald Trump seemingly interfering with the work of federal investigators for personal reasons.
Attorney General William Barr denies that any interference has occurred at the DOJ from Trump, but it’s difficult to see how a tweet from the president — in which he decried a sentencing recommendation from that department on Twitter — couldn’t be seen as meddling from the chief executive, particularly because the DOJ announced that it would revise its recommendations mere hours after Trump complained.
Because of last week’s events, more than 1,100 former DOJ officials have signed onto a letter criticizing Trump’s and Barr’s actions.
“Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice,” the letter, signed by “alumni of the United States Department of Justice,” said.
“President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted” the principle of administering justice in an equal and fair way, the letter claimed.
DOJ Alumni Statement on the Events Surrounding the Sentencing of Roger Stone: “Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.” https://t.co/1m2p9zEbPL
— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) February 16, 2020
“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,” the DOJ alumni stated.
In no uncertain terms, the signers compared the actions of the president to those of un-democratic despots.
“Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies,” the letter said.
Amid criticism last week, Trump asserted that, as president, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to insert himself in the work of the DOJ — something that previous administrations have taken great pains to avoid even the appearance of doing.
Trump said in a tweet last Friday he had the “legal right” to do so, denying that he has tried or successfully interfered with the DOJ’s work in the past, The Guardian reported.