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Two Former Prosecutors For Central Illinois Call For Barr's Resignation Over Stone Case

William Barr speaks
Patrick Semansky
Attorney General William Barr said he would like President Trump to "stop tweeting," since the president's commentary makes it "impossible" to do his job.

Two former U.S. attorneys for central Illinois are among over 2,000 former Department of Justice officials who’ve signed a letter calling for Attorney General William Barr’s resignation over his role in the Roger Stone case.

Jan Miller and Jim Lewis both led the U.S. attorney’s office for the central district of Illinois. Miller held the job from 2002 until 2005 under former President George W. Bush. Lewis served under Republican and Democratic presidents before retiring in 2016.

Lewis told WCBU the Stone case is emblematic of a larger problem within the Department of Justice.

"There's a climate and a trigger," Lewis said. "The climate is one in which there's an awful lot of good work being done by an awful lot of good people. But the cases that have political overtones seem to be treated in a different manner."

The letter called for Barr’s resignation after his department lowered the prison sentence recommendation for Stone, a longtime ally of President Trump, in a move that's led to accusations of political interference. The DOJ alumni wrote that Barr’s intervention in the Stone case tarnished the department’s reputation.

Lewis said it wasn't the fault of the federal prosecutors who presented the case.

"They had reported it accurately. Then, all of the sudden, for one reason or another, someone put their thumb on the scale and the work they had done was undone," he said.

The four prosecutors handling the case then resigned.

“I’m sure it’s a very difficult time to be a line prosecutor in the department right now,” Miller told The Washington Post.

Barr has denied discussing with Trump the decision to intervene in the Stone case. Barr is scheduled to testify in front of the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee on March 31. 

Meanwhile, the current U.S. attorney for central Illinois, John Milhiser, said Tuesday that political interference is not an issue in his office.

“I was appointed. I work for the attorney general. But politics plays no part in anything we do in the office,” Milhiser told WGLT.

Milhiser himself has been an elected official; he served as Sangamon County state’s attorney until becoming the area’s top federal prosecutor in 2018.

“I, in every single case, look at the specific facts and try to do justice. Try to make the community a better place in prosecuting that case. Nothing has changed in my new role as U.S. attorney,” Milhiser said. “It’s not a concern of mine. We have dedicated, professional prosecutors in the office, and that’s what they do. And politics does not play a part in anything they do or in any case, whatsoever.”

Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.
Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WGLT. Dana previously covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois and Peoria for WCBU.
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