More than 1100 former Justice Department officials on Sunday called for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General William Barr, as the fallout over his meddling in the Roger Stone case continued.
Barr early last week made the extraordinary decision to overrule the recommendation of his own prosecutors that Stone, a friend and former adviser of President Trump's, get up to nine years in prison.
He and other DOJ leaders instead suggested Stone's sentence be more lenient - and did so after Trump chastised the DOJ in a tweet, calling the sentencing "unfair." The DOJ's about-face prompted four prosecutors to quit the Stone case in protest, and led Democrats to accuse Trump and his appointee Barr of working in cahoots to protect Trump's friend.
In an open letter published on the website Medium Sunday, the former DOJ officials - who worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations - wrote: "... 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." By the end of last week, Barr defended his actions on ABC News by saying the DOJ's decision to abandon the Stone sentencing recommendation was his, not Trump's, and that Trump has never asked him to intervene in a criminal case.
But in an apparent rebuke of the President, Barr said that Trump's directives to DOJ officials make it hard for Barr to do his job, and that Trump's tweets should stop.
Trump then shot back, claiming he has "the legal right" to interfere in criminal cases.
When asked whether Trump does in fact have that legal right, Republican Senator John Kennedy, appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday, said this: (SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SEN.
JOHN KENNEDY, SAYING: "Just because- does the president have a right to tweet about a case?
Just because you can sing, though, doesn't mean you should sing.
This is a case where tweeting less would not cause brain damage." Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar on "Face the Nation" weighed in on whether she believed Barr when he said his intervention in Stone's sentencing had nothing to do with the president's directive.
(SOUND BITE) (ENGLISH) SEN.
AMY KLOBUCHAR, SAYING: "I think he needs to go under oath and I am very glad that he's going to have to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
I also hope he also comes over to our Senate Judiciary Committee as well because that's where we're really going to be able to get that answer." Barr's testimony in the House is expected next month.
A jury found Stone guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.
He is set to be sentenced next week.