- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The 2,000 or so ex-Justice Department attorneys who’ve signed on to a petition calling for Attorney General William Barr’s resignation over his handling of the Roger Stone matter shows the “deep state” at work, said Jason Chaffetz, a congressman-turned-Fox-News-contributor.

And a bit of bipartisan legislation could be just the cure for that ill, said Rep. Jody Hice, in an email.

The backstory is this: More than 1,100 former Justice Department employees signed an online petition calling for Barr to step aside after he suggested a second look at prosecutors’ call for a seven- to nine-year jail sentence for Stone — make that, the overly aggressive, much-too-excessive seven- to nine-year jail recommendation for Stone. The number of signers grew to more than 2,000, CBS News reported.

Chaffetz, a former congressman from Utah, told “Fox & Friends” in an interview that these ex-DOJers were simply part and parcel of the “deep state,” using politics to hatchet attack an attorney general of the United States they know full well has the right to weigh in on the sentencing side of things.

“This is the deep state being exposed,” Chaffetz said. “These people do not want accountability. There are about 110,000 people at the Department of Justice, roughly 10,000 of them are attorneys. … I think they’re scared to death of Donald Trump and Barr and [Connecticut U.S. Attorney John] Durham and certainly [Inspector General Michael] Horowitz because they don’t want people peeling back the onion, looking under the hood of how these people have operated at the Department of Justice. That’s why they’re firing back. But now they’re being exposed.”

The solution?

Chaffetz said the system is rigged in favor of the attorneys at Justice — meaning, that right now, inspectors general can investigate all federal goings-on, save attorneys at the Justice Department.

“The one group of people that’s exempt [from IG oversight] are attorneys at the Department of Justice,” he said.

The Office of Professional Responsibility is instead in charge of looking at prosecutorial misconduct among DOJ attorneys.

H.R. 202, the Inspector General Access Act from Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, and supported by Georgia Republican Rep. Jody Hice, would change that system, and allow the inspector general to step in and assume investigative control.

“Wrongdoing by every federal employee can be investigated by an Inspector General, except federal attorneys at the Justice Department,” Hice said. “There is no legitimate reason for federal prosecutors to be shielded from the IG.”

Quite right.

Because when they’re shielded, you get scenarios like this: DOJ employees, both past and present, acting with impunity and using their law enforcement positions to wrongfully influence sentencing recommendations.

Because when they’re shielded, they get to use their power for political attacks — for “deep state” hits. Because when there’s no transparency, accountability falls to the wayside. Because when there’s no light, freedom dies.

A bit of bipartisan legislation seems a speedy commonsense fix to what’s clearly a biased, unbalanced system.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

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