Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham won't ask Bill Barr to testify about Stone sentencing

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday that he would not ask Attorney General Bill Barr to testify before his committee about the Justice Department's decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for President Trump's associate Roger Stone.

Why it matters: Democrats in the past 24 hours have demanded that the administration provide answers on why the DOJ overruled career officials who had been handling the Stone prosecution, especially after Trump congratulated Barr on Twitter for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control."

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to the Justice Department inspector general requesting an investigation, writing: "This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution."
  • Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday sent letters to Graham demanding that the committee hold a hearing on potential interference.
  • House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday that his Democratic-led committee "will get to the bottom of this."

What they're saying: "He'll come in as part of oversight, but we're not going to call him based on this," Graham told reporters, adding that it's not appropriate for Trump to be commenting on ongoing cases, per Politico.

  • Other Republican senators were similarly dismissive: “I think the judge is going to take care of that,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Context: The Justice Department submitted a new sentencing recommendation for Stone after career prosecutors requested that he serve seven to nine years in prison for obstruction, giving false statements to a House committee and witness tampering.

  • All four prosecutors who tried Stone in November withdrew from the case, while one resigned from the Justice Department altogether.
  • This came after Trump tweeted early Tuesday that the recommendation is a "miscarriage of justice" that he "cannot allow," claiming that the "real crimes were on the other side.

Go deeper: Trump pulls nomination for former U.S. attorney for D.C. to Treasury post

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Pelosi leads Democrats' calls for DOJ probe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holds a press conference on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is leading calls for an investigation after the Department of Justice made a downgraded sentencing recommendation for President Trump's associate Roger Stone.

"By tweet @realDonaldTrump engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone. It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated."
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Trump congratulates Barr after prosecutors resign from Roger Stone case

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department submitted a new sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone on Tuesday, overruling career prosecutors who requested in a court filing Monday that the former Trump adviser serve 7–9 years in prison.

Driving the news: President Trump acknowledged in a Wednesday morning tweet that Attorney General Bill Barr had intervened in the matter, congratulating him for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought."

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Warren: Barr should resign or face impeachment

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at her primary night event on Tuesday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°" Wednesday Attorney General Bill Barr should resign "or face impeachment" after President Trump acknowledged the AG overruled prosecutors to lower Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation.

The big picture: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent Barr a letter confirming he'll testify on March 31 on the intervention in the case of Trump's associate Stone, after Department of Justice prosecutors requested he serve 7–9 years in prison for crimes including obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering. All four prosecutors resigned following the action.