(CNN)More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials who served in Republican as well as Democratic administrations posted a statement Sunday calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign.
“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. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department’s career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice,” the officials wrote in a statement.
The rare statement from the officials — mostly former career prosecutors, but also some former political appointees — came in the wake of an extraordinary week at the Justice Department. In just one week, career prosecutors withdrew from a case after Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation, the attorney general pushed back against the President in an unusual interview and separately ordered an examination of politically charged cases involving those close to President Donald Trump.
The statement went on to say career attorneys should report any troubling actions they see to the department’s Inspector General.
The Justice Department declined to comment when reached by CNN Sunday. Barr has so far not given any indication that he is considering stepping down from his current role.
Th upheaval at the Justice Department began when all four federal prosecutors who took the case against Roger Stone to trial withdrew from the case Tuesday afternoon after Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation hours after the President criticized it on Twitter.
Barr on Thursday claimed he couldn’t do his job with Trump publicly commenting on sensitive investigations, but insisted the Justice Department had acted appropriately, and, without explanation, suggested prosecutors’ recommended sentence for Stone was too harsh.
In an interview with ABC News, Barr defended the department’s rank-and-file.
“I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me,” the attorney general said.
In an unusual move on Sunday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing Stone’s case, called for a “scheduling” conference call with attorneys in the case on Tuesday, ahead of the sentencing hearing set for later this week, according to court documents.
The court did not provide additional details on what would be discussed on the call, and Jackson has not yet formally acknowledged the withdrawals.
Barr zags and prosecutors worry
It was a notable zag for Barr after days of mounting scrutiny, and on Friday, the Justice Department informed former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — a frequent target of Trump’s ire — it was dropping charges against him.
At the time, Barr ordered a re-examination of several high-profile cases, including that of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, US officials briefed on the matter say. The move could bring fresh scrutiny of the political motives behind actions at the Justice Department.
Prosecutors across the country have been incensed and worried about what some perceive as growing political directives coming from Washington.