Trump Is 'Running a Crime Syndicate Out of the West Wing' With Barr as His 'Consigliere,' Former Prosecutor Says

Pressure is building on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign after thousands of former Department of Justice officials and members of the Federal Judges' Association expressed concern about his conduct.

By Monday, more than 2,000 former DOJ employees from both the Republican and Democratic parties had signed a letter demanding that Barr resign, while the Federal Judges' Association had agreed to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the attorney general's behavior.

Their concerns center on Barr's handling of the Roger Stone case. Stone—a long-time adviser to President Donald Trump and a veteran GOP operative—is due to be sentenced later this month for crimes uncovered during the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Last week, prosecutors recommended a jail term of seven to nine years for Stone. But after Trump condemned the proposal, the DOJ said it would issue a more lenient sentencing memo. The four prosecutors that worked on the Stone case subsequently resigned in protest.

Though Barr publicly complained about the president's tweets on the issue, critics have accused the attorney general of undermining the rule of law to protect the president and his allies.

The open letter signed by former DOJ staff claims that Barr "openly and repeatedly flouted" the principle of equal justice under the rule of law.

The letter also warned it was "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."

John Flannery—a former federal prosecutor—was among those who signed the letter. He told MSNBC Monday that Barr "has no business in that job" and called on DOJ officials to "do the job right." He described Barr as the president's "consigliere" and said Trump is the "chief criminal who's running a crime syndicate out of the West Wing."

Other former attorneys reacted to the open letter and the Federal Judges' Association meeting on Twitter. Harry Litman, for example, said the U.S. is now in "full on crisis mode," describing recent developments as "mind-blowing."

Former Associate White House Counsel Ian Bassin noted, "Our institutions are sounding alarms," while former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah said the open letter was a "extraordinary bi-partisan show of unity."

Former U.S. attorney Barb McQuade—now a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School—said she was among those who signed the open letter, warning, "Even the appearance of partisanship has no place in the fair administration of justice."

Laurence Tribe—a legal scholar at Harvard Law School who advised President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign—described the Federal Judges' Association meeting regarding Barr as "rolling thunder."

"One stuffed goose named Barr is cooked," he added. "2000 DOJ alumni he can ignore. 1000 federal judges? That's an altogether different kettle of fish."

Donald Trump, Bill Barr, crime, syndicate, DOJ
This combination of pictures created on February 14, 2020 shows President Donald Trump speaking on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on January 29, 2020, and Attorney General Bill Barr at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on January 13, 2020. SAUL LOEB, ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images/Getty