June 28, 2021
October 1, 2020
Editorial credit: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com
We, the undersigned, are attorneys from across the political spectrum and across the country. We write to express support for Department of Justice (“DOJ”) professionals who may face difficult choices about participating in political misuse of the DOJ in the election period ahead. 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.
Mr. Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power – even if solely intended as another effort to discourage voters – heightens our concern about what actions the Attorney General might take that would undermine the vote and the rule of law.
The Department of Justice is a cornerstone of our legal system. Trust in its fairness and impartiality requires an Attorney General singularly dedicated to the principles espoused on its own website:
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The most sacred of the duties of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.” This sacred duty remains the guiding principle for the women and men of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Attorney General Barr’s prosecutorial actions supporting the President’s friends and partisan interests have eroded public confidence in his commitment to impartial justice for all people. Earlier this year, Barr’s intervention in DOJ cases against presidential allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn prompted more than 2,000 DOJ alumni to speak out in protest.
In July, twenty-seven distinguished DC Bar members filed a disciplinary complaint against Mr. Barr. Among other things, the complaint cited his misrepresenting the law in Senate testimony defending his decision that the Mueller Report’s evidence was insufficient to charge the President with obstructing justice. The complaint also charged him with violating his lawyer’s oath to uphold the Constitution when he oversaw the use of force against peaceful protestors in Lafayette Square. The complaint stated that: “Mr. Barr has consistently made decisions and taken action to serve the personal and political self-interests of President Donald Trump, rather than the interest of the United States.”
Further, DOJ’s impartiality has traditionally meant avoiding actions shortly before elections that might affect the outcome. Mr. Barr has indicated that he is poised to abandon that tradition by pressing his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, to issue an irregular “report” with partisan impact within weeks of the election.
Additionally, Mr. Barr’s statements raise grave concern about his readiness to influence the upcoming election. He has defended the President’s threat to send law enforcement to polling places — historically done to intimidate voters. Barr’s endorsing the President’s unfounded mail-in ballot fraud claims raises red flags about potentially using DOJ in post-election litigation to undermine the vote.
We support DOJ attorneys and personnel who stand by their oaths and the Department of Justice’s duty to do justice for the public by not participating in partisan misuse of the DOJ. They honor the rule of law, our profession, and the country as we face this crucial test for our democracy.
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Last Updated October 12, 2020