Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump threat to rule of law

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Twenty former Republican U.S. attorneys on Tuesday accused President Donald Trump of threatening the rule of law as they declared their support for Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden.

FILE PHOTO: A combination picture shows U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaking during the first 2020 presidential campaign debate, held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The former senior federal prosecutors, who collectively served under every Republican president from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush, said in a publicly released letter that Trump treated the Department of Justice as his personal law firm by pressuring government lawyers to protect his allies and attack his political foes.

The group is the latest of several Republican-led organizations opposing Republican Trump’s re-election.

Others include Republican Voters Against Trump, Former Republican National Security Officials for Biden, and 43 Alumni for Biden, which consists of hundreds of officials who worked for George W. Bush, the 43rd president.

The former U.S. attorneys say Trump has politicized the Justice department like no other president.

“We believe that President Trump’s leadership is a threat to the rule of law in our country,” the group wrote.

The Trump campaign has described Republican-led groups campaigning for Biden as disaffected former officials “trying to take down the duly elected president of the United States.” Trump on Twitter last year referred to “Never Trump Republicans” as “human scum.”

Hogan Gidley, a Trump campaign spokesman, said: “No one should be surprised establishment elitists are supporting Joe Biden.”

The Department of Justice did not initially respond to a request for comment.

The attorneys said they were dismayed by Trump’s 2017 firing of FBI director James Comey, which they believe was done to thwart an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election; his dismissal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump publicly rebuked for not shutting down the Russia investigation; and Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of his adviser, Roger Stone, sparing him from prison after he was convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference.

“He’s not just bending the norms, he’s smashing them,” said Ken Wainstein, a co-founder of the group who served as a U.S. attorney in Washington under Bush.

Reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Scott Malone, Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis