This week, the political independence of the Department of Justice fell apart even more intensely surrounding the sentencing of longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. Originally, as part of the federal obstruction of justice case against him, federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. had recommended a sentence of 7 to 9 years. But now, higher-ups at the department have announced a reduction in that recommendation, every one of the prosecutors on Stone’s case has withdrawn from the proceedings in apparent protest, and Attorney General Bill Barr has been announced as the new department lead on all Trump-adjacent matters. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) denounced Barr’s power grab in a public statement posted to Twitter this week.
‘Sentencing recommendations countermanded, prosecutors punished, and enemies investigated. How do we measure the damage Bill Barr is inflicting on the independence, integrity and reputation of the Department of Justice? We can’t.’
Sentencing recommendations countermanded, prosecutors punished, and enemies investigated.
How do we measure the damage Bill Barr is inflicting on the independence, integrity and reputation of the Department of Justice?
We can’t. https://t.co/d4b7z49EOp
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 12, 2020
It’s true — besides the debacle surrounding Stone’s case, in which Department of Justice officials intervened to shape the outcome more towards the president’s wishes, Barr’s Justice Department has also led investigations into Trump opponents, like those who originally started the Russia investigation. Personally, Barr has also worked to protect the president numerous times already, including when he kept details of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation from the public for an extended period of time. The problem is that he’s supposed to be the top law enforcement officer in the U.S., which one would hope would entail some kind of legitimacy derived from political independence.
During Trump’s recent impeachment trial over his scheme to bribe Ukraine into investigating his opponents, Republican Senators like Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Maine’s Susan Collins insisted that Trump had learned his lesson — or something. Yet, in the wake of the proceedings, he and his allies like Barr and Rudy Giuliani have been behaving completely unfettered.
Check out Twitter’s response to Schiff…