Justice Department’s Credibility on ‘Life Support’ as Bill Barr Intervenes in Stone Case

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.”

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

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“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.”

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