Would you want the President or Attorney General to personally intervene in your criminal case for political reasons?
I wouldn’t. That’s why, as a former DOJ prosecutor and Special Asst. to the Asst. Atty. General, Criminal Division, I have joined with over 2,000 DOJ former prosecutors and officials to support efforts to prevent political interference in criminal cases.
Justice must be impartially administered and never used for political retribution. I’ve signed on to the following statement by democracynow.org calling for the end of this practice by President Trump and Attorney General Barr which subverts the rule of law and American’s faith in the fair administration of justice. No thumb should be on the scales of equal justice for all. And, our institutions are only as strong as the citizens who will work to uphold their integrity.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Dr. James McHenry, delegate from Maryland said to Ben Franklin:
“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
Franklin’s Answer: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
David Muchow, Muchowlaw
Statement by Protect Democracy.org
We, the undersigned, are alumni of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) who have collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice.
As former DOJ officials, we each proudly took an oath to support and defend our Constitution and faithfully execute the duties of our offices. The very first of these duties is to apply the law equally to all Americans. This obligation flows directly from the Constitution, and it is embedded in countless rules and laws governing the conduct of DOJ lawyers. The Justice Manual — the DOJ’s rulebook for its lawyers — states that “the rule of law depends on the evenhanded administration of justice”; that the Department’s legal decisions “must be impartial and insulated from political influence”; and that the Department’s prosecutorial powers, in particular, must be “exercised free from partisan consideration.”
All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.
And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes. The Department has a long-standing practice in which political appointees set broad policies that line prosecutors apply to individual cases. That practice exists to animate the constitutional principles regarding the even-handed application of the law. 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. It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.
Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice. In this nation, we are all equal before the law. One should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics, they are autocracies.