Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined his colleague Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai’i), today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr expressing alarm at, and opposition to, unethical political intervention of senior Department of Justice (DOJ) officials in the case of Roger Stone, a former campaign insider and adviser to President Trump, and calling on the Attorney General to immediately resign from his position. Mr. Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation, lying to Congress, and tampering with a witness in connection with the investigation of Russian intervention into the 2016 presidential election.
“This is an extraordinary turn of events. It appears to show that you and other top DOJ officials intervened in a clearly political fashion to undermine the administration of justice at the President’s behest in order to protect a well-connected political ally who committed a ‘direct and brazen attack on the rule of law,’” the senators wrote in their letter. “It demonstrates that you lied to Congress during your confirmation hearing when you stated that you would ‘keep the enforcement process sacrosanct from political influence,’ and it reveals your unwillingness or inability to maintain the integrity of the DOJ and to uphold justice and the rule of law.”
The senators urged Attorney General Barr to resign from his position, effective immediately (see letter text below).
“While you asserted yesterday in an interview with ABC News that you were ‘not going to be . . . influenced by anybody,’ this statement is simply not credible given that it is sharply at odds with the behavior of top DOJ officials and the comments of the President over the past 72 hours,” the senators continued.
Senators Warren, Van Hollen, Hirono, and Markey also unveiled legislation today to protect rule of law and restore integrity and impartiality at DOJ by prohibiting individuals appointed by the President to positions at DOJ from participating in matters relating to the President, his family, or his campaign associates. The bill would block DOJ funding for political appointee involvement – including involvement by the Attorney General -- in any case, investigation, or other matter that directly impacts the President or individuals with close ties to the President.
“Attorney General Barr’s interference in Roger Stone’s sentencing is not just unethical—it’s corrupt, plain and simple,” said Senator Warren in a statement released alongside the legislation announcement. “This bill would use Congress’ spending authority to protect the rule of law and prevent a corrupt Attorney General from protecting the President’s buddies when they commit crimes to benefit the President.”
“The Department of Justice is supposed to uphold the laws of our land fairly and without bias, not cater to the President’s political whims. Attorney General Barr has shown that he will throw aside his sworn duties to do the bidding of President Trump. His recent interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone is unacceptable, and in light of this, the Congress must act to uphold our judicial process. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Warren to prevent political interference at the Department of Justice,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Serving as Attorney General of the United States is a sacred trust, and Bill Barr has repeatedly betrayed that trust by politicizing the Department of Justice in service of Donald Trump. It is long past time for his resignation,” Senator Hirono said. “I will continue to support efforts like this to constrain Bill Barr’s overt political interference and will continue to fight against this administration’s assault on the rule of law.”