More Senate Democrats are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign after the Justice Department intervened in the case against Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump.
“We are writing to express our alarm about and opposition to the unethical political intervention of senior Department of Justice officials in the case of Roger Stone,” nine senators wrote Friday in a letter to Barr that called for his immediate resignation.
Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, was convicted in November on seven counts, including witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstructing an official proceeding, in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Earlier this week, the federal prosecutors who ran Stone’s trial abruptly dropped out of the case after DOJ leadership intervened to reduce their sentencing recommendation.
“The intervention in this case by you or other senior DOJ officials working under you is a clear violation of your duty to defend fair, impartial and equal justice for all Americans,” reads the letter signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Warren and Blumenthal had first called on Barr to resign on Thursday.
Neither the White House nor DOJ immediately responded to HuffPost’s requests for comment.
News reports revealed Friday that Barr had also ordered an outside prosecutor to revisit the criminal case against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn — yet another move by the Justice Department to scrutinize cases or seek more lenient sentences for Trump’s allies.
The prosecutors in Stone’s case had told the court Monday that Stone should face seven to nine years behind bars. After Trump tweeted early Tuesday that the sentencing recommendation was too long and a “miscarriage of justice,” the Justice Department filed a new, more lenient recommendation. The career prosecutors then dropped out one by one.
Trump appeared to confirm Wednesday that Barr had intervened in the case, praising the attorney general for “taking charge.” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley later denied that Trump had interfered in Stone’s sentencing.
In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, Barr insisted that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” Early Friday, Trump tweeted that this “doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so” — adding that he had so far “chosen not to.”
Other lawmakers demanded answers on the Stone situation earlier this week, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying Wednesday that the Justice Department’s inspector general should investigate and urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the matter. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) joined the call for Barr to testify before the committee. (Barr had previously agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31 as part of the panel’s normal oversight.)
In their letter Friday, Democratic lawmakers skewered Barr for his or his staff’s actions “to seek special protections for Mr. Stone,” saying these “make a mockery of your responsibilities to seek equal justice under the law and reveal that you are unfit to head the DOJ.”
“A DOJ that abandons the rule of law in order to give sweetheart deals to criminals acting on behalf of the President of the United States is as corrupt as it is unacceptable,” the lawmakers concluded.
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