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Heat on Barr Grows as Judges Call Special Meeting

National association of federal judges is worried about intervention in political cases
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2020 10:45 AM CST

(Newser) – The pressure continues to be turned up on Attorney General William Barr. The independent Federal Judges Association is convening an emergency meeting Tuesday to address concerns about how the Justice Department and President Trump have intervened in high-profile political cases, reports USA Today. (Two recent examples were the cases of Trump allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.) The move comes days after more than 1,000 former Justice Department officials demanded that Barr resign. More on what's happening:

  • Significance: The move by the judges' group "is another example of the scrutiny Barr is facing from not only Democrats but also members of the legal community—from both sides of the political aisle," per Axios.
  • Why: "We just could not wait until April to discuss matters of this importance," said Philadelphia US District Judge Cynthia Rufe, the group's president and an appointee of George W. Bush. "There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about." She also voiced support for the federal judge in the Stone case, Amy Berman Jackson, who was criticized online by Trump. Critics including Hillary Clinton said that amounted to intimidation.

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  • One critic: In an essay in the Atlantic, former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer (he served under George H.W. Bush) argues that Barr must resign or be impeached. The attorney general seems intent on trying to make Trump a president who can operate above the law and is destroying the integrity of the Justice Department in the process, writes Ayer. "Bill Barr's America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go," he concludes. "It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen."
  • From the right: At the Washington Examiner, Byron York see hypocrisy in all this criticism of Barr as he looks into "the murky origins" of the Justice Department's various investigations. "Not to be too blunt about it, but where were these voices the last three years?" York asks. He ticks off a list of probes into Trump allies, none of which seemed to bother the Trump critics. "But now, as Barr seeks to shine a light on how the investigation machine revved up, we suddenly hear concerns about the costs of such investigations."
  • And Graham: GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham also went after Barr's critics in an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox show Monday, per Fox News. "Bill Barr stepped in and stopped what I thought was an unjust sentence enhancement," he said, referring to the decision to overrule the original recommended sentence of up to nine years for Stone. "You are not trying to uphold the rule of law," he said to Barr's critics. "You're trying to take a good man down because you hate" Trump.
(Read more William Barr stories.)

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