A group of more than 1,100 former Justice Department employees signed a letter published Sunday calling for the resignation of U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
The former officials, who worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations, criticized Barr for his handling of the case against Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump's and political consultant who was convicted last year of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction.
Attorneys who prosecuted the case for the government quit last week after the Justice Department announced it would lower the amount of prison time it sought for Stone. Prosecutors had asked a judge to sentence him to between seven and nine years, a proposed sentence Trump called “horrible and very unfair” in a tweet last week.
"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," former DOJ employees wrote in the letter published Sunday on Medium.
"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."
The letter posted Sunday included signatures from DOJ employees dating back to the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, according to Politico.
As of Sunday afternoon, the letter had more than 1,140 signatures, all of which were gathered by the nonprofit legal group Protect Democracy, Politico reported. The group previously collected signatures from former Justice Department officials for a letter that claimed that former special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election held enough evidence to prosecute Trump for obstruction of justice.
A jury convicted Stone in November on several charges connected to Mueller’s investigation. Prosecutors said he lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks during the election.
Stone was a prominent figure in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. He and Trump have been friends since the 1980s, according to The Washington Post.
Rumors have swirled since his conviction that Trump might issue a pardon for him, though he said in December that he hadn't considered it, USA Today reported.
"I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone compared to what they do to other people, on their side," the president added, according to the newspaper.
Stone is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.