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Trump news: Kamala Harris leads calls for Barr to quit for interfering in sentencing of president's friend

Joe Sommerlad, Alex Woodward
Donald Trump: Alex Brandon/AP

Donald Trump returned to Washington on Sunday night after opening the Daytona 500 NASCAR race in Florida to attend the wedding of his senior aide Stephen Miller, held at the president’s own Trump International Hotel in DC in disregard of ongoing concerns about violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

More than 2,000 former Justice Department employees have meanwhile called for his attorney general, William Barr, to step down after it became clear he had intervened to push for a more lenient prison sentence for Republican political operative and Trump ally Roger Stone.

The call follows a letter signed by nine US senators — including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — demanding his resignation. California Senator Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor who grilled the attorney general following the Mueller investigation, also renewed her call for Mr Barr to step down.

An open letter signed by a growing list of former staffers at the Justice Department said they "stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department's core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law".

"And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle", the post says. "Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies."

Donald Ayer, the former deputy US Attorney General under George HW Bush, eviscerated Mr Barr's legal doctrine in a stunning column for The Atlantic, saying that "Bill Barr's America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen."

Meanwhile, the president has remained largely offline on Presidents' Day (other than to celebrate his presidency) while his rival Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor running for the Democratic presidential nomination, is criticised for his past statements on women and stop and frisk. The president's advisor Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News to slam the candidate while defending the president for similar statements and behaviours.

The president has otherwise been belatedly defending his US-Mexico border wall after footage went viral of a section of it being blown down in strong winds two weeks ago, with Mr Trump now insisting this was the fault of wet concrete and not shoddy workmanship or cheap materials.

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