A group of federal judges will hold an emergency meeting this week to respond to the crisis arising out of the Justice Department's handling of cases that implicate the interests of President Donald Trump, USA Today reported on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe told the outlet that the Federal Judges Association felt the need to have a discussion among its leadership to discuss the accusations that Attorney General Bill Barr is allowing the Justice Department to be used inappropriately in politically sensitive matters. These concerns resurfaced recently when Barr and DOJ leadership overruled a sentencing recommendation made by line attorneys in the case of Roger Stone, a close ally of the president who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering in the course of the Russia investigation.
But such worries have been persistent since Barr was first nominated to his position after wrote a memo before criticizing the very basis of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the president. These fears have also been amplified by the apparent targeting of the former Deputy Director of the FBI Andy McCabe, a perceived enemy of the president, who was recently told after a prolonged investigation that he will not be charged for allegedly lying to the inspector general.
Rufe told USA Today that there "are plenty of issues that we are concerned about" and that the matter "could not wait" until the association's upcoming meeting in the spring.
"I am not concerned with how a particular judge will rule," she said of the judge in the Stone case. "We are supportive of any federal judge who does what is required."
Trump had singled out Stone's judge, Amy Berman Jackson, in a tweet that falsely accused her of putting him in solitary confinement.
The Federal Judges Association is an independent organization with about 1,100 members, USA Today reported. Since federal judges have lifetime tenure, they don't have to worry about professional retaliation from the president.
"Including time as a judicial law clerk, I have 25 years of experience in federal practice. I have never heard of an emergency meeting of federal judges," said Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor. "This is wild."