More Than 600 Justice Department Alumni Sign Letter to Protect Mueller

Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in 2013. The Justice Department alumni said many of them had worked with Mueller and knew him to be a dedicated public servant. Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in 2013. The Justice Department alumni said many of them had worked with Mueller and knew him to be a dedicated public servant. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Amid continuing speculation that President Trump might fire special counsel Robert Mueller, more than 600 former Justice Department employees have signed an online letter expressing dismay at “the attacks that have been levied against the good men and women of the department.”

The letter posted on April 13 on the online idea-sharing membership service Medium and signed by 623 department alumni as of noon Tuesday called on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law.”

The alumni continued:

We served this institution out of a commitment to the founding American principles that our democratic republic depends upon the rule of law, that the law must be applied equally, and that no one is above the law. Many of us served with Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein. Those of us who served with these men know them to be dedicated public servants committed to these principles. All of us served with thousands of their peers at the department, who also swear an oath to serve, defend, and protect the United States, the Constitution and the American people. We know that there are thousands of public servants at the department today who serve these principles and all of us.

The petition comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers has offered legislation that would specify that a special counsel could be fired only for cause. Republican leaders, however, have continually said such a bill isn’t needed because they believe Trump is unlikely to take the controversial step of dismissing the special counsel before he completes his investigations into the Trump team’s relationship with Russia and various past financial dealings.

Each signatory of the letter gave his or her former title at Justice, number of years served and which administration. Among them are Harvard University Law Professor Laurence Tribe, former Democratic vice presidential chief of staff Ron Klain, Brookings Institution financial industry scholar Robert Litan and antitrust expert now CEO of the Internet law group Public Knowledge Gene Kimmelman.

Some added their own comments. “We all took an oath to enforce the Constitution and our laws in a fair and even-handed manner,” wrote Joyce Branda, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division, who served for 37 years under presidents Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, the elder Bush, Reagan and Carter. “This is the bedrock principle of our constitutional republic: that we are a government of laws, not of men. The law is not a weapon in the president’s political arsenal. A president who fails to understand this and who cannot protect the Department of Justice from political interference is unfit to serve.”

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