Trump praises Barr, attacks prosecutors in Roger Stone case
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Feb 15, 2020,
Feb 15, 2020, 0:23
It isn't yet clear whether improper political influence led the Justice Department to ask for a more lenient sentence for Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Trump, than the one originally proposed by federal prosecutors. As a result, all four prosecutors on the case resigned and Attorney General William Barr assumed direct control over Stone's case.
The president tweeted in support of Stone this week and against his criminal case, which was initially sought a sentence of seven to nine years. But where are the Republicans to speak out on this blatant violation of the rule of law?
A slightly redacted sealed order noted that Stone's request was related to one of the jurors in his trial being an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and, quite notably, nothing at all to do with recent revelations that another of his jurors was a former and failed Democratic Party congressional candidate.
Republican lawmakers, who almost all voted to acquit Trump of impeachment charges, offered muted criticism of the president but shrugged off suggestions they should investigate whether his political concerns were influencing law enforcement.
The Department of Justice amended the sentencing recommendation earlier in the week, arguing the previous seven-to-nine-years guideline "could be considered excessive and unwarranted". "And the President has as his attorney general an enabler".
"Bill Barr has said - or the Department of Justice has said - "Hey, we made the decision and had filed this memorandum" revising - sort of taking away the original recommendation - suggesting a far lesser sentence before Donald Trump said anything".
"If the attorney general says it's getting in the way of doing his job, maybe the president should listen to the attorney general", McConnell told Fox News.
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"I think it is appalling for the president of the United States to be attacking American citizens for patriotically fulfilling their duties", he said.
On Tuesday, the White House also dropped a top prosecutor who oversaw the Stone case, withdrawing the nomination for Jessie Liu to serve in the Treasury Department.
Stone and his lawyers have not spoken with Trump about the latest developments in his case, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Former Memphis City Schools Board President Tomeka Hart revealed Wednesday that she was the foreperson of the jury that convicted Stone on obstruction charges past year - and soon afterward, her history of Democratic activism and a string of her anti-Trump, left-wing social media posts came to light.
Then, she accused Barr of lying to the House Appropriations Committee when he said he had no knowledge of any concerns former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators had about Barr's now-infamous four-page summary of the report.