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The ‘final straw’: Annapolis resident and ex-DOJ lawyer joins call for Attorney General William Barr’s resignation

Attorney General William Barr.
Attorney General William Barr.(Cliff Owen/AP)

Annapolis resident Robert Frantz had seen enough.

Frantz, a former Department of Justice lawyer, is one of more than 2,000 former department officials who signed an open letter urging Attorney General William Barr to resign after Barr intervened in the case of Roger Stone, a long-time ally and advisor of President Donald Trump.

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He added his name to the open letter sent to Barr Sunday requesting that he resign after the attorney general overruled prosecutors who recommended a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for Stone. Barr reversed that decision Feb. 11, immediately drawing criticism of political interference and spurring thousands of former department employees, including Frantz, to sign the letter.

“This is the final straw that broke the camel’s back," Frantz said in an interview Tuesday. “There have been many activities and actions that (Barr) has taken that I think is fair to say are unduly partisan.”

Frantz, a former Justice Department trial attorney from 1977 to 1980, wrote an opinion column for The Capital delving into more detail on his decision to sign the letter, which was initially signed by more than 1,100 former Justice Department officials. That number had nearly doubled by Tuesday.

Frantz compared some Barr’s actions to those committed by John N. Mitchell who served as Richard Nixon’s attorney general and was later found guilty for his role in the Watergate cover-up.

“There were things he did that were truly political in their focus and effect," Frantz said of Mitchell. “But since Watergate happened and since all of the policies were put in place designed to make sure that we don’t have another Watergate, this is unprecedented."

Frantz said he was unaware of any other former Justice Department employees in the Annapolis area who had signed the letter.

“But I know people in D.C. and I know people in other parts of the country, and we all are quite frankly astonished and dismayed at the nature of what’s taking place at the department right now because it’s inconsistent with everything we were taught.”

Stone was convicted in November of a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, witness tampering and other crimes. All four prosecutors in Stone’s case resigned Feb. 11 after Barr’s intervention, including Aaron Zelinsky, a Baltimore federal prosecutor.

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In an interview with ABC News Thursday, Barr denied that Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case" and recommended that the president stop tweeting about his department because his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

Trump ignored Barr’s request and tweeted that same day that he has the legal right to ask the Justice Department to intervene in a criminal case. In a tweet Tuesday, Trump called for Stone’s case to be thrown out. A federal judge refused to delay Stone’s sentencing, which will take place Thursday.

Frantz, who originally from New Jersey and attended Rutgers University, moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Justice Department in the late 1970s. After his time there, he worked at a D.C. law firm before moving into the private sector. He retired in 2013 and has since lived in Annapolis with his wife.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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