In an op-ed for the Washington Post this Thursday, the executive director for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), writes that Attorney General Bill Barr’s meddling in the Roger Stone case is like nothing he’s ever seen before. According to Noah Bookbinder, Barr’s actions in the days leading up to Stone’s sentencing “appropriately sent a chill down the spines of prosecutors across the country.”
“Federal prosecutors submitted their sentencing recommendation regarding Mr. Stone on Feb. 10; the following day, the Justice Department called that recommendation excessive and replaced it with a recommendation calling for “far less” imprisonment — and just after President Trump tweeted his own disapproval of the original sentencing recommendation,” Bookbinder recounts. “All four career prosecutors on the case withdrew from the matter, with one of them resigning from the department altogether — a sign of how extraordinary and unwelcome the intervention was.”
Barr’s claim that his decision was made before Trump’s tweets doesn’t matter, Bookbinder contends, because he and others in the Justice Department already knew that Trump felt Stone’s prosecution was unfair. While Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s sentencing Stone to 3.5 years was not unusual, Barr’s successful push to lower the prosecutions sentencing recommendation was.
“As a former federal corruption prosecutor and senior staffer at the United States Sentencing Commission, I can say unequivocally that what Mr. Barr and his team did was something I have never seen before,” Bookbinder writes. “It calls into question his fitness to play a leading role in our nation’s justice system. The top prosecutor in the land must demonstrate a commitment to protecting the rule of law, not the president and his allies.”
According to Bookbinder, there’s one crucial question no one at the DOJ can answer: Is there a single case where the department overruled career prosecutors which the defendant was not an ally of President Trump, or someone who could testify against him?
Read his full op-ed over at The Washington Post.