Statements

Open Letter from Former Federal Prosecutors and High-Ranking Officials of The U.S. Department of Justice

Sunday, as reported by the Associated Press, a group of nearly 100 former federal prosecutors and high-ranking DOJ officials from both Democratic and Republican administrations, including former AG Eric Holder and former Deputy AG Larry Thompson, issued the following joint letter expressing serious concerns over FBI Director Comey's departure from long-standing department protocols:

As former federal prosecutors and high-ranking officials of the U.S. Department of Justice, we know that the impartiality and nonpartisanship of the United States justice system makes it exceptional throughout the world.  To maintain fairness and neutrality, federal law enforcement officials must exercise discipline whenever they make public statements in connection with an ongoing investigation.  Often, evidence uncovered during the course of an investigative inquiry is incomplete, misleading or even incorrect, and releasing such information before all of the facts are known and tested in a court of law can unfairly prejudice individuals and undermine the public’s faith in the integrity of our legal process.

For this reason, Justice Department officials are instructed to refrain from commenting publicly on the existence, let alone the substance, of pending investigative matters, except in exceptional circumstances and with explicit approval from the Department of Justice officials responsible for ultimate supervision of the matter.  They are also instructed to exercise heightened restraint near the time of a primary or general election because, as official guidance from the Department instructs, public comment on a pending investigative matter may affect the electoral process and create the appearance of political interference in the fair administration of justice.

It is out of our respect for such settled tenets of the United States Department of Justice that we are moved to express our concern with the recent letter issued by FBI Director James Comey to eight Congressional Committees.  Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him.  But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed. We cannot recall a prior instance where a senior Justice Department official—Republican or Democrat—has, on the eve of a major election, issued a public statement where the mere disclosure of information may impact the election’s outcome, yet the official acknowledges the information to be examined may not be significant or new.

Director Comey's letter is inconsistent with prevailing Department policy, and it breaks with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.  Moreover, setting aside whether Director Comey's original statements in July were warranted, by failing to responsibly supplement the public record with any substantive, explanatory information, his letter begs the question that further commentary was necessary.  For example, the letter provides no details regarding the content, source or recipient of the material; whether the newly-discovered evidence contains any classified or confidential information; whether the information duplicates material previously reviewed by the FBI; or even “whether or not [the] material may be significant.”

Perhaps most troubling to us is the precedent set by this departure from the Department’s widely-respected, non-partisan traditions.  The admonitions that warn officials against making public statements during election periods have helped to maintain the independence and integrity of both the Department’s important work and public confidence in the hardworking men and women who conduct themselves in a nonpartisan manner.

We believe that adherence to longstanding Justice Department guidelines is the best practice when considering public statements on investigative matters.  We do not question Director Comey’s motives. However, the fact remains that the Director’s disclosure has invited considerable, uninformed public speculation about the significance of newly-discovered material just days before a national election.  For this reason, we believe the American people deserve all the facts, and fairness dictates releasing information that provides a full and complete picture regarding the material at issue.

Signatories:

  • Eric H. Holder, former Attorney General of the United States

  • Stuart M. Gerson, former Acting Attorney General of the United States, former Assistant Attorney General

  • Donald B. Ayer, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • James M. Cole, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • Jamie S. Gorelick, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • Gary G. Grindler, former Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • Larry D. Thompson, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • David W. Ogden, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States

  • Wayne A. Budd, former Associate Attorney General of the United States, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts

  • Tony West, former Associate Attorney General of the United States

  • Neal Kumar Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States

  • Lanny A. Breuer, former Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division

  • Christine A. Varney, former Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division

  • Lourdes Baird, former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

  • Paul Coggins, former U.S. Attorney for Northern District of Texas

  • Jenny Durkan, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington

  • Melinda L. Haag, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California

  • Timothy Heaphy, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia

  • Scott R. Lassar, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

  • Michael D. McKay, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington

  • Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania

  • Neil H. MacBride, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia

  • Bill Nettles, former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina

  • Timothy Q. Purdon, former U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota

  • Donald Stern, former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts

  • Anne M. Tompkins, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina

  • Elkan Abramowitz, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

  • David B. Anders, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Jodi L. Avergun, former Section Chief, U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division

  • Marion Bachrach, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

  • Richard Ben-Veniste, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and former Assistant Watergate Prosecutor

  • Shay Bilchik, former Director, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

  • David M. Buckner, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida

  • Alex Busansky, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division

  • Helen V. Cantwell, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Sandra Cavazos, former Assistant US Attorney for the Northern District of California and the Eastern District of New York

  • Charles E. Clayman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Joel M. Cohen, former Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

  • Leo P. Cunningham, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California

  • Bert Deixler, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

  • Keir Dougall, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Ira M. Feinberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Cary M. Feldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Martin Flumenbaum, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Stuart L. Gasner, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii

  • Douglas F. Gansler, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and former Attorney General of Maryland

  • Faith Gay, former Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions and Civil Rights Divisions, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

  • Gerald Greenberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida

  • Fred Hafetz, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

  • John Heuston, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

  • Michele Hirshman, former Chief of the General Crimes and Public Corruption Units, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

  • Sydney Hoffmann, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • June M. Jeffries, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Marcia Jensen, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California

  • John Joseph, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

  • Nancy Kestenbaum, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

  • David V. Kirby, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont

  • Barbara E. Kittay, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • David S. Krakoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Larry H. Krantz, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Miriam Krinsky, former Chief of General Crimes, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California

  • Laurie Levenson, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Central District of California

  • Hon. Tim Lewis, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and former federal judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Lori Lightfoot, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

  • Debra Long-Doyle, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Carl H. Loewenson, Jr., former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Jeffrey Marcus, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida

  • Richard Marmaro, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

  • Douglass B. Maynard, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Seth Miles, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida

  • Amy Millard, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Curtis B. Miner, dormer Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida

  • Cynthia Monaco, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Martin Perschetz, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Elliot R. Peters, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Karen A. Popp, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Jeff Rabkin, former Assistant U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and for the Northern District of California

  • Daniel L. Rashbaum, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Southern District of Florida

  • Alicia Strohl Resnicoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

  • David H. Resnicoff, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

  • Lawrence Robbins, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Frank A. Rothermel, former U.S. Department of Justice Civil Fraud Prosecutor

  • Lee Rubin, former prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Betty Santangelo, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • John Savarese, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Richard L. Scheff, former Chief of the Corruption and Labor Divisions, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

  • William Schwartz, former Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

  • John Siffert, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • David Sklansky, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

  • Matthew E. Sloan, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Central District of California

  • Judge Mike Snipes, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas

  • Stephen R. Spivack, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia

  • Jeremy H. Temkin, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Eric Tirschwell, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Michael Tremonte, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York

  • Amy Walsh, former Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

  • Richard D. Weinberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

  • Peter Zeidenberg, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section

  • Lawrence J. Zweifach, former Chief of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York