Updated Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

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."

Driving the news: All four prosecutors who tried Stone in November withdrew from the case Tuesday afternoon after the DOJ intervened following their recommendation that Stone serve 7–9 years in prison for crimes including obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

  • The DOJ acted hours after Trump tweeted that the original sentencing request was "disgraceful." "Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!" he added. The Justice Department said it made the decision before Trump's tweet.
  • The Justice Department deferred to the court on sentencing but outlined in its memo why it felt the original sentence request was too harsh.
  • It pointed to mitigating factors including Stone's "advanced age, health, personal circumstances and lack of criminal history" and that the witness he was convicted of attempting to intimidate claims he "did not perceive a genuine threat."
What they're saying:
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) posted a letter to Twitter Tuesday evening he sent to the DOJ inspector general, asking for a review of the reduced sentencing recommendation.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) tweeted, "It appears that the President and the Attorney General have overruled career prosecutors in order to help Roger Stone, who lied under oath on the President’s behalf. ... the Committee will get to the bottom of this."
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said in a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), "I request that you immediately schedule a hearing for Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee so that the committee and the American people can understand the Justice Department's decision to overrule its career prosecutors in this case."
  • Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, tweeted, "The justice system must be totally independent from politics. The DOJ owes an immediate explanation for how this decision was made, what conversations occurred, and exactly who was involved. ... DOJ and the Attorney General need to explain this, immediately, and offer documentary proof to back it up."
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) shared to Twitter a letter he sent Graham, saying in his post that he's calling for hearings and an "investigation of political interference in Roger Stone's sentencing — repulsive disregard for the rule of law."

Go deeper: Prosecutors resign from Roger Stone case

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more lawmakers' comments.

Go deeper

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."

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.

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."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy