Democrats are accusing President Donald Trump of politicizing the sentencing of Roger Stone because he tweeted congratulating Attorney General William Barr for “taking charge of the case.” Some Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), called for Attorney General Bill Barr to resign because the DOJ pulled back the recommendation by prosecutors for a 7-9 year sentence saying it was excessive. Four prosecutors quit in response to that action.
According to a senior DOJ official, the prosecutors lead DOJ officials to believe they were going to ask for a more moderate sentence than in fact they did and then were stunned when the prosecutors asked for a 7-9 year sentence for a non-violent first offense. The reason was because of a difference of opinion about the sentencing enhancement for an alleged “threat” to a witness. The witness himself said it wasn’t a real threat, that they kidded with each other all the time, he didn’t feel threatened and he told the judge he didn’t want Stone to serve jail time. But the prosecutors took the harshest view possible of that “threat,” bumping what otherwise might have been a 2-3 year sentence to 7-9 years.
It’s just fundamentally silly to suggest that the DOJ doesn’t have the right to make their own decisions about recommendations and that the prosecutors’ opinion outweighs that of their superiors.
In his inimitable style former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy just sliced and diced those attacks during an interview on Fox.
From Daily Caller:
Gowdy told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum that Barr “thinks two or three years is more proportional.”
Without a sentencing enhancement “for actively threatening a witness,” Gowdy contended, “everyone would agree that Bill Barr’s view of the guidelines is accurate.”
“But the notion that Bill Barr should resign is about the dumbest damn thing I have ever heard,” he said. “If a United States senator really believes that the Department of Justice cannot weigh in on what a proportional sentence is — there are child pornographers who don’t get nine years. There are people who rob banks who don’t get nine years. So, let the judge decide. I think two or three years is about right.”
His point? The whole argument is just silly since the recommendation is only a recommendation anyway, it’s the judge who’s making the decision on sentencing.
Gowdy said it was ludicrous to point to Trump’s tweet and think that influenced Barr.
“I can tell you this: Bill Barr was aware of this recommendation before President Trump ever tweeted a single syllable, a single character. So the notion that Barr was somehow motivated to move because of this tweet is just factually wrong,” Gowdy declared.
Gowdy went on to say that he’d been consistent in saying he didn’t think presidents should weigh in on ongoing investigations or criminal prosecutions whether it was Trump or Barack Obama.
But he also noted that the president has the power to pardon Stone “right now if he wants to.” “He could do it by tweet tonight. He’s the head of the executive branch and people have a chance in November if they want a different one,” Gowdy argued although he recommended the president steer clear of weighing in on ongoing prosecutions.
HT: Fox News