US Attorney General William Barr has been heavily criticized for commenting on his department’s sentencing amendments of long time Trump confidant and adviser Roger Stone, who was recently convicted of several crimes. Former Justice Department employees are going as far as to accuse Barr of violating the independent judiciary system. Altogether over 1,100 former officials have called for Barr’s resignation under the current circumstances, in which Barr’s behavior is seen as highly controversial. The former officials primarily refer to Barr’s behavior of the previous week.
What Did Barr Do Last Week?
On Monday, the four prosecutors in criminal proceedings against former Trump advisor Stone ordered a sentence of seven to nine years. Soon after, President Trump complained on Twitter that the sentencing was a miscarriage of justice.
Barr then took it upon himself to conduct and, in fact, reduce the sentencing with the result that the prosecutors resigned from the case while one even left the Justice Department.
Afterward, Barr defended himself during an interview with ABC and stated that he had decided in the case prior to Trump’s Twitter interference. Barr, however, also described the dilemma in which he continuously finds himself in: apply the law to the best of his abilities or bow to political pressure. Barr then criticized Trump for his Twitter statements, stating that, if the president kept addressing cases via Twitter, it would make it almost impossible to do his job. Moreover, Barr added, he would not be bullied into actions by anyone including the president.
Political Interference in Criminal Proceedings
Barr’s criticism of Trump is explicitly recognized by the signatories of the letter, including a former deputy minister of justice and 50 prosecutors. However, the letter states, political interference in criminal proceedings runs counter to the Justice Department’s duties, such as equal treatment of all people and prosecution without ulterior political motives.
The signatories thus call on all Justice Department officials to be vigilant and demand that they do the same as the Stone Prosecutors and stand up for their oath. If any wrongdoing was noticed, it needed to be reported immediately, either to the internal supervisory bodies or to Congress. The process is remarkable because the Department of Justice is usually known for the loyalty of its employees, including former employees – not in this case, however.
Barr Also Reviewing Russiagate Convictions Including of Michael Flynn
Only recently, it was announced that Barr is currently reviewing some old cases related to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, often referred to as “Russiagate.” One of these cases is that of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first National Security Adviser, who was sentenced to imprisonment for lying to the FBI but is still awaiting punishment.
Moreover, Barr also hired a prosecutor to take any evidence that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani could have found against Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine. Giuliani has long tried to get hold of incriminating material against the Bidens. Meanwhile, the Democrats criticize the allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden as insubstantial.
Barr’s Record of Defending Trump
Prior to his public criticism of Trump on ABC, Barr has often defended the President’s behavior. He refrained from initiating proceedings against Trump after the publication of the Mueller report. Before the report was released, Barr sent a to Congress saying that the DOJ would not initiate any proceedings on the report’s conclusion. Barr also did not consider it necessary to submit a whistleblower complaint to Congress, marking the start of impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. All these points have made Democrats suspicious of Barr’s agenda.
Even his ABC interview has come under scrutiny and been labeled by some Democrats as a political maneuver in coordination with Trump himself to distract from the developments in the Stone case and make his approach seem legit. Only today, however, reports have suggested that Barr has contemplated the idea of resigning from his post over the president’s Tweets — which could undoubtedly add new life into the whole debate and provide weight to the belief that Barr really has reached the end of his patience with the President’s behavior.