By Ken Stone
Calling themselves alumni of the U.S. Department of Justice, the nearly 2,500 signatories wrote that Barr’s actions in “doing the president’s personal bidding” damaged DOJ’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law and “require Mr. Barr to resign.”
Raymond J. “Jerry” Coughlan Jr., a former San Diego assistant U.S. attorney, called Barr’s intervention “sickening to me as a former assistant of more than 10 years in two offices.”
He said he signed after reading both government sentencing memos.
The first called for a prison term of seven to nine years for Stone after his federal conviction in November of obstructing a congressional inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lying under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness who would have exposed his lies.
The second memo, urging greater leniency, was “inexplicable from any rational legal analysis,” Coughlan told Times of San Diego.
“It gratuitously insulted the trial prosecutors,” four of whom quit the case and one resigned from DOJ, “by suggesting they did not understand the full scope of their duties to do justice – which obviously they did from their memorandum,” he said Monday via email.
Other San Diego alumni of the DOJ signing the letter included:
- Stephen Anear, who was special assistant to the U.S. attorney in San Diego, serving seven years during the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations.
- Thomas Coffin, who was chief of the Criminal Division of the San Diego office, with 21 years under Reagan, Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Ford and Carter.
- Roger Haines, who was chief of the Appellate Section of the San Diego office and worked for DOJ between 1978 and 2007.
- Sam Liccardo, who was an assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego from 1998 to 2000 before he became a San Jose councilman and now mayor of San Jose.
- Michael Lipman, who was assistant U.S. attorney chief of Fraud Unit in San Diego and worked in DOJ from 1976 to 1983.
- Robert “Bob” Rose, who was assistant U.S. attorney and chief of Criminal Division in San Diego.
- And Bob Semmer, who was an assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego when he received the Justice Department “Directors Award” in 1983.
Coughlan, who also worked with Semmer and Lipman in private practice, said he came to the conclusion that the second sentencing memo wasn’t really directed to the court but to some other audience — presumably President Trump or his followers including Fox News.
But he said Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over the Stone trial, dealt repeatedly with his misconduct, so “she undoubtedly has her own opinions of an appropriate sentence irrespective of the opinion of the Justice department lawyers.”
Rose gained fame for heading the two-year grand jury investigation into San Diego swindler J. David Dominelli and his business. Rose asked for the maximum 20-year sentence permissible under the plea bargain agreement — and achieved it.
“U.S. District Judge William B. Enright meted out the maximum prison term and ordered that Dominelli pay more than $82 million to the J. David investors he defrauded,” said the Los Angeles Times in 1985. (Dominelli died in 2009 in Chicago, his home since parole in 1996.)
In May 2019, nine former U.S. prosecutors from San Diego signed an open letter saying Donald Trump would face multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice if he weren’t president. Four of them signed the latest letter as well.
In their letter on Barr, the DOJ alumni commended the four career prosecutors who “upheld their oaths and stood up for the department’s independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning from the department. Our simple message to them is that we — and millions of other Americans — stand with them.”
Updated at 8:35 p.m. Feb. 18, 2020
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