Government Accountability Project Staffers Sign On to DOJ Letter

2,500+ Signatures Strong, Letter Calls for Barr’s Resignation

By Emma Lyons

More than 2,500 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have signed an open letter published Sunday calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign. This follows numerous reports of Mr. Barr’s interference in a routine recommendation for Roger Stone (Stone received a sentence of 40 months imprisonment on February 20, 2019). Two current members of Government Accountability Project’s staff, John “Jack” Kolar and David Seide, signed the letter as former DOJ employees. Mr. Kolar, our Director of Litigation, has 41 years of experience at DOJ, putting him at number 15 on the list when sorted by years of service. He served under eight administrations, both Republican and Democratic. Mr. Seide served in DOJ for 11 years under three administrations.

In November, Mr. Stone, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser to President Trump, was convicted of seven felonies for obstructing a congressional investigation into whether the Trump campaign had ties to Russia. After the four DOJ line attorneys prosecuting the Stone case filed their sentencing recommendation with the court — a recommendation based one established federal sentencing guidelines — President Trump tweeted that the recommendation was “horrible and very unfair.” Thereafter, DOJ filed in court a second recommendation disavowing the first claiming the recommended sentence was “excessive.” President Trump congratulated Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.” This interference caused the entire Stone prosecution team to quit the case. One of the attorneys resigned from the department entirely. 

The open letter, signed by many former high-ranking DOJ officials, condemns President Trump and Attorney General Barr’s “interference in the fair administration of justice.” The letter takes into account comments made by Barr in an interview with ABC News last Thursday, including his acknowledgement that Trump’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.” The letter states that Barr’s actions “unfortunately speak louder than his words” and consequently calls for Barr’s resignation.

The letter also praises the four career prosecutors who “upheld their oaths” by withdrawing from the Stone case. They call on each DOJ employee to follow their example by refusing to “carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to withdraw from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary, to resign.” They also call on the other branches of government to “protect from retaliation those employees who uphold their oaths in the face of unlawful directives,” because “the rule of law and the survival of our Republic demand nothing less.”

On Tuesday, Trump continued to undermine Barr’s authority telling journalists, “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country.” Trump has ignored Barr’s appeals, continuing to tweet about the Justice Department. Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday morning.

Government Accountability Project is proud to have attorneys such Jack Kolar and David Seide on our staff, who not only stood up for justice by adding their names to the open letter from former Justice Department officials calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign, but who stand ready to support and represent current DOJ employees – and all other whistleblowers and witnesses – who refuse to be complicit or silent in the face of gross abuses of authority that undermine the rule of law.