In both cases, the department undercut the work of career employees to protect an ally of the president, an abdication of the commitment to equal justice under the law. Prosecutors must make decisions based on facts and law, not on the defendant’s political connections. When the department takes steps that it would never take in any other case to protect an ally of the president, it betrays this principle.

Indeed, the department chose to assign these matters to a special counsel precisely to avoid the appearance of political influence. For the attorney general now to directly intervene to benefit the president’s associates makes this betrayal of the rule of law even more egregious.

The attorney general’s public comments worsened matters. William P. Barr gave nationally televised interviews in which he disparaged the work of prosecutors and agents who handled these cases, criticizing the Stone prosecutors for losing “perspective” and the Flynn team for becoming “wedded to a particular outcome.”

As the attorney general knows, those career prosecutors and agents cannot respond.