President Trump’s use of social media is causing upheaval in the Justice Department.
His tweets have upset Attorney General William Barr and have caused turmoil in the team prosecuting a close ally of the president. Barr, most often in alignment with Trump, claims the president’s tweets have made it “impossible for me to do my job.”
Roger Stone was found guilty last November of seven felonies, including lying to Congress and hindering the investigation into Trump’s involvement with Russia. Federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of seven to nine years in jail, which is a typical sentence. Soon after, Trump sent out a tweet proclaiming the sentence to be “horrible and very unfair.” Hours after the tweet, the Department of Justice reduced the sentence, resulting in the resignation of four prosecutors working on Stone’s case. A Justice Department official claims the Department’s action was not influenced by Trump’s words.
Another trial possibly influenced by Trump is the case involving Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who pled guilty to lying to the FBI and is awaiting a sentence. Barr has appointed an outside prosecutor Jeffrey Jensen to review the case. Jensen was nominated by Trump in 2017 to serve as a chief federal prosecutor in St. Louis.
Barr on February 10 admitted that the Justice Department is in the process of evaluating information from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, about claims that Ukraine (instead of Russia) was influencing the 2016 election. This is despite the theory being largely discredited.
In an interview with ABC, Barr stated the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case,” in response to being accused of serving Trump’s requests. Democrats have accused Barr of meddling for political gain and have asked for him to testify before Congress.
On February 16, more than 1,000 Department of Justice alumni signed a letter describing Barr’s handling of Stone’s case as an episode that “openly and repeatedly flouted” equal justice under the rule of law. The joint letter requested Barr to resign. “The rule of law and the survival of our Republic demand nothing less,” stated the letter.
By Sagarika Pal