Barr agrees to testify to House amid Roger Stone sentencing dispute

Clay Curtis
February 13, 2020

He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Attorney General William Barr delivers remarks at the National Sheriffs' Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington on February 10, 2020.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican and Trump defender, said on Twitter that he hoped the court would take the jury allegations seriously if the media report was accurate, calling it "not fair".

The White House denied Trump had pressured the DOJ to show lenience to Stone.

Federal prosecutors filed a sentencing memo Monday arguing Stone should be jailed for seven to nine years, prompting Trump to dismiss the proposal as "horrible" and a "miscarriage of justice".

Stone is a flamboyant political operative - a self-described "dirty trickster" - who was convicted previous year of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In tweets, Trump also targeted the judge in the case, who is set to make the final decision on Stone's sentence on February 20, while retweeting a post that urged a full pardon of Stone as well as another former Trump adviser, Michael Flynn.

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But, historically, and for very good reason, both the Department of Justice and the White House have had strict policies that bar in most circumstances communications between the White House and the Department of Justice about individual decisions in individual cases.

"Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought", Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

The shakeup came after the DOJ on Tuesday issued a revised sentencing memorandum (pdf) that didn't offer any prison term recommendations for Stone.

The length of jail time for Stone changed when the Department of Justice recommended significantly less time. The move sent shockwaves through Washington and prompted all four prosecutors to quit the case, with one leaving the department altogether. "These are, I guess, the same Mueller people that put everybody through hell and I think it's a disgrace", Trump said.

"This is the commander-in-chief, this is the top law enforcement officer, and he's got a right to his opinion", White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told Fox News on Thursday.

Chuck Schumer, the party's leader in the Senate, asked the Justice Department's internal watchdog to investigate, and Sen. Sherrod Brown told reporters. Stone is set to be sentenced next week for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional committee proceeding.

But other Republicans said Mr Trump should not have shared his opinion about the Stone case. Stone to serve between 87 and 108 months in federal prison, which they said was consistent with federal guidelines.

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