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President Donald Trump makes a statement on the census with Attorney General William Barr in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 11, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Our Institutions Are Sounding Alarms': Federal Judges Call Emergency Meeting Over Trump Interference With DOJ

"This is mind-blowing. I've never heard of anything like it. We are in full on crisis mode."

Jake Johnson

The head of the 1,100-member Federal Judges Association on Monday called an emergency meeting amid concerns over President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr's use of the power of the Justice Department for political purposes, such as protecting a long-time friend and confidant of the president.

The emergency meeting—announced Monday by Philadelphia-based U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, the head of the group—was described by legal analysts as an unusual and "extraordinary" step.

"This is mind-blowing. I've never heard of anything like it," tweeted former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman. "We are in full-on crisis mode."

Ian Bassin, founder and executive director of the advocacy group Protect Democracy, said the decision by the judges' association to call an emergency meeting shows "our institutions are sounding alarms" over Trump and Barr's conduct.

Describing the move as unprecedented, the Washington Post reported late Monday that "a search of news articles since the group's creation [in 1982] revealed nothing like a meeting to deal with the conduct of a president or attorney general."

Rufe told USA Today that the group "could not wait" until its annual spring conference to discuss Trump and Barr's behavior, which has included overruling federal prosecutors to reduce Trump confidant Roger Stone's recommended prison sentence and installing an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser.

As Common Dreams reported, Trump last week denied instructing Barr to intervene in the Stone case but insisted he has the "absolute right" to order the Department of Justice to do his bidding.

"There are plenty of issues that we are concerned about," Rufe said. "We'll talk all of this through."

The association's decision comes after more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called on Barr to resign over his decision to reduce the recommended prison sentence for Stone, who was convicted last November of witness tampering and lying to Congress.

"A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the president," the former officials wrote in an open letter released Sunday. "Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies."


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Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Now We're Talking!' Says AOC as Biden Backs Filibuster Carveout for Abortion Rights

"Time for people to see a real, forceful push for it," said the New York Democrat. "Use the bully pulpit. We need more."

Jake Johnson ·


Supreme Court Says Biden Can End 'Shameful' Remain in Mexico Asylum Policy

"Now is the turn for Congress to get rid of Title 42, and provide a solution to the weakened asylum system in place, to provide a humane and fair alternative to vulnerable children, families, and individuals fleeing unsafe conditions and persecution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Democrats Lose Senate Majority as 82-Year-Old Leahy Heads for Hip Surgery

"It could be over for the Senate Dems now," said one policy expert in response. "This could mean they effectively lost their majority."

Jon Queally ·

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