Amidst controversy, AG Bill Barr faces calls for his resignation

When more than 1,140 former Justice Department lawyers - from Democratic and Republican administrations - call for Barr's ouster, it's important.
Image: Attorney General William Barr holds a press conference rat the Department of Justice in Washington
Attorney General William Barr holds a press conference rat the Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 13, 2020.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP - Getty Images file

Over the last week, the public has confronted a governing dynamic without modern precedent: we appear to have an attorney general who is essentially trying to fix federal law-enforcement cases of interest to the president. The question -- one of them, anyway -- is what should happen now.

For a growing number of observers, the answer is to see William Barr resign from his post.

The editorial board of the Boston Globe published a piece on Friday arguing, in reference to Barr, "Members on both sides of the aisle should be publicly demanding his resignation -- and they should not relent until they secure it."

It's quickly become a common conclusion. Time magazine published a piece from former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, an MSNBC legal analyst, who wrote, "If Barr truly believes in the rule of law, this is his moment. He can resign to show the country the President is not above the law."

This morning, The Atlantic ran a related piece from Donald Ayer, the former deputy attorney general under George H. W. Bush, who argued, "Bill Barr's America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen. To prevent that, we need a public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign immediately, or failing that, be impeached."

As the New York Times reported, they're hardly the only Justice Department veterans calling for Barr's ouster.

More than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Sunday to step down after he intervened last week to lower the Justice Department's sentencing recommendation for President Trump's longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr.

In their joint statement, with signatories from Democratic and Republican administrations, the former DOJ lawyers explained, "Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies." They added that the attorney general's actions "damage they have done to the Department of Justice's reputation for integrity and the rule of law," as such, Barr must resign.

As of this morning, the list of signatories stood at 1,142 -- and growing -- and it included a former deputy solicitor general and a former deputy attorney general.

This is in no way routine, and it speaks to the seriousness with which Barr has jolted the American legal system with his apparent abuses.