The independent Federal Judges Association, a group that includes more than 1,000 federal jurists, has called an emergency meeting Tuesday to address growing concerns about the Justice Department’s decision to intervene in the case involving Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump.
Philadelphia U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who heads the independent Federal Judges Association, said the group “could not wait” until its spring conference to weigh in on a deepening crisis that has enveloped the DOJ and U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
“There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about,” Rufe, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, told USA TODAY. “We’ll talk all of this through.”
Rufe said the group called for the meeting last week after Trump criticized prosecutors’ initial sentencing recommendation for his friend Roger Stone and the Department of Justice overruled them.
The DOJ asked D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the Stone case, for a lighter prison sentence for Stone than the seven to nine years that was initially recommended. The four federal prosecutors assigned to the case all resigned from it, with one leaving the DOJ altogether after the move.
Trump attacked Judge Berman Jackson after the prosecutors’ resignations, suggesting that she had treated his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort unfairly. Manafort was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after he was convicted on charges of bank and tax fraud and pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Rufe told USA Today that his group is “not inclined to get involved with an ongoing case.” But she offered staunch support for Jackson, saying that the group is “supportive of any federal judge who does what is required.”
More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials have signed on to a letter calling for Barr to resign, saying that his “actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words.”
The letter also calls on career officials to follow the “heroic example” set by the prosecutors who resigned from Stone’s case and to be prepared to report “future abuse.”