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Justice Department’s credibility is on ‘life support’ as Bill Barr goes ‘rogue’: Ex-prosecutor

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On Tuesday, former federal prosecutor Harry Litman wrote a blistering op-ed that excoriated Attorney General William Barr for his Justice Department’s apparent political abuses of power.

“The withdrawal of all four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone, in the wake of the Justice Department’s sentencing shift, underscores that Attorney General William P. Barr’s department has effectively gone rogue,” wrote Litman. “Resignation is the strongest possible protest that prosecutors can employ, within professional bounds, against improper conduct by their leadership. The president’s tweet and the department’s reduction of Stone’s sentencing were utterly rank and improper. The action runs counter not only to standard practice but also to the standard that the Justice Department is supposed to embody: the administration of justice without fear or favor.”

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The DOJ’s decision to overrule those prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations for Stone, Litman wrote, is unprecedented.

“Stone was convicted of serious crimes: lying to Congress and witness tampering,” wrote Litman. “His recommended sentence was by the book — literally. Federal prosecutors go by a manual from the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Commission that lays out appropriate sentences for specific offenses. The seven- to nine-year sentence that prosecutors had sought was precisely what equal justice mandated. That’s far from the ‘miscarriage of justice’ that Trump called it in a tweet.”

“I have never experienced or even heard of a situation in which a career prosecutor had been ordered to withdraw a sentencing memorandum within the guidelines’ range,” wrote Litman. “The original filing in the Stone case came from two career federal prosecutors and two special assistant U.S. attorneys. This rebuke has to be maddening for them.”

“As a general matter, the Justice Department and the White House are supposed to communicate only in rare, well-defined instances and almost never about the results of individual cases,” continued Litman. “Such contact is a third rail. For those of us committed to the normal course of legal justice, it cuts into bone for the department to do the White House’s bidding in a case in which the president has a strong personal stake.”

“Amid this troubling trend, the prosecutors’ departures will ring the loudest alarm in the Justice Department and in Washington generally,” concluded Litman. “The department’s reputation for doing the right thing, already eroded by the abuses that have piled up since Barr became attorney general, is on life support. That is among the most odious achievements of the Trump presidency.”

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There’s no respite from Trump’s vindictiveness and foolishness

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As we know, even in the midst of a national emergency, Donald Trump could find time and bandwidth to continue his retribution campaign.

He dismissed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence agencies, for doing “a terrible job,” satisfying his own thirst for vengeance for anyone who actually adhered to law and practice over blind loyalty to Trump himself. Indeed, asked about it the next day, Trump underscored his action by saying, Atkinson “was no Trump supporter, that I can tell you.”

It was an act that we once would have labeled corruption, by Democrats and Republicans – that is using the office for personal purposes – if Congress and too many Americans had not since become inured by so many like instances.

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This is how Taiwan and South Korea bucked the global lockdown trend

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As the coronavirus pandemic sparks global lockdowns, life has continued comparatively unhindered in places like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong after their governments and citizens took decisive early action against the unfolding crisis.

At first glance Taiwan looks like an ideal candidate for the coronavirus. The island of 23 million lies just 180 kilometres (110 miles) off mainland China.

Yet nearly 100 days in, Taiwan has just 376 confirmed cases and five fatalities while restaurants, bars, schools, universities and offices remain open.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen, whose deputy is an epidemiologist, made tough decisions while the crisis was nascent to stave off the kind of pain now convulsing much of the rest of the world.

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Republican ex-lawmaker with coronavirus scolds Wisconsin GOP for forcing voters to risk their health

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On CNN Tuesday, former Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), who is himself dealing with a bout of COVID-19, chastised the Wisconsin GOP for doing everything in their power to block the state elections from being moved — and forcing many voters to stand in line and risk exposure to the virus to cast their ballot.

"I have to tell you, here in Pennsylvania we have a Democratic governor and Republican legislature," Dent told host Don Lemon. "They postponed the election here from April 28 until June 2. Without any controversy. Everybody agreed it was the right thing to do and they moved on. I'm surprised Wisconsin took this risk, knowing they don't have to."

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