Posts tagged with "Attorney General Bill Barr"

GOP Rep. Louis Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19; may have exposed Barr outside hearing room

July 30, 2020

Representative Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican, has tested positive for the coronavirus after refusing to wear a mask on the House floor and around the Capitol, Politico first reported Wednesday.

What’s more, Gohmert may have exposed Attorney General Bill Barr to the virus, while the AG was on the Hill to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 28, reporter Olivia Beavers tweeted.

Gohmert defended not wearing a mask, even when he’s not able to social distance, in an interview with CNN last month— saying he’d only wear a face covering regularly if he contracted the virus.

“I don’t have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday I’ve never had it,” he said at the time. “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask.”

The conservative, age 66, attended Attorney General William Barr’s House hearing on Tuesday and  spoke with Barr within six feet without wearing a mask.

Indeed, Beavers, a national security reporter for The Hill, tweeted, “Rep. Gohmert, who was without a mask, stood outside the men’s bathroom where Barr went before he walked into the “hearing” room. Once out, Gohmert approached the AG and exchanged a comment or two. Would say from memory, they were within arms length.”

She noted that Barr, who had arrived with a mask, removed it while he talked to Gohmert.

The next day, Jake Sherman, a Politico reporter, broke the news that Gohmert had just tested positive for COVID-19.

According to The Hill, Gohmert is now the tenth member of Congress with a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19. Representatives. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), Neal Dunn (R-Florida), Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia;s well as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), have also tested positive for the disease.

A spokesperson for Barr said Wednesday that the attorney general would be tested for the coronavirus following the exposure to Gohmert.

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, may want to take a test, too. Word is, he used the same microphone as Gohmert at the Tuesday hearing.

Research contact: @thehill

Swalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen’s former job as Trump’s fixer

July 29, 2020

On Monday, July 27—one day before Attorney General Bill Barr was scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary CommitteeRepresentative Eric Swalwell (D-15th District-California), a member of that panel, said that ever since President Donald Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen has been sentenced to prison (and then, home confinement), Barr “has taken the job.”

“Unfortunately, Bill Barr already had a job—as Attorney General of the United States, our nation’s top law enforcement official,” Swalwell wrote in a Newsweek op-ed published Monday. “And we must not let him do both jobs at once.”

Tuesday is the first time Barr will appear before the committee—where Democrats seek to press him on the alleged politicization of the Department of Justice (DOJ), The Hill reported.

Swalwell maintained that Cohen’s actions to shield the president from ridicule—as in the hush money payout of $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016—are similar to actions Barr has taken in public office.

“It was reprehensible, but Cohen has taken responsibility for his actions and now is paying the price,” Swalwell wrote. “Meanwhile, Barr seems to be carrying out similar order—but deploying weapons more powerful than Cohen could’ve dreamed of: the power and authority of the U.S. Justice Department.”

The congressman listed examples in his op-ed that are likely topics during the House hearing, such as the administration’s decision to commute Roger Stone’s sentence and its dismissal Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was leading several investigations into Trump’s associates, including his other personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Swalwell said that during the hearing Barr “will be expected to explain in detail why he has put President Trump’s personal and political needs above the interests of the American people and our justice system.

“Unless he can provide us with valid rationales for his actions—beyond the self-serving excuses he has provided publicly so far—we must assume the Attorney General has been reduced to the role of an underworld fixer for Donald Trump, which has terrible implications for the health of our democracy and for Americans’ faith in government,” Swalwell wrote.

Research contact: @thehill

Barr: U.S. Attorney’s probe not likely to focus on Obama, Biden—or ‘Obamagate’

May 20, 2020

How low will he go? Even at the behest of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr said on Monday that he “doesn’t  expect” either to investigate—or to subpoena for testimony— former President Barack Obama or Vice President Joe Biden, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Barr, who to date has been all too willing to do the president’s bidding, said the former heads of state would not be scrutinized as part of an examination into the origins of a federal probe looking at whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia. In doing so, he crushed Trump’s Obamagate hopes—making it clear that there would be no criminal prosecution.

Last year the AG appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, to review the origins of the 2016 probe into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian election interference. The investigation, according to people familiar with it, the Journal says, is proceeding on multiple fronts—examining how the initial allegations surfaced in 2016, as well as a separate 2017 U.S. intelligence report that concluded Moscow had interfered in the presidential election in part to help then-candidate Trump.

“As to President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement, based on the information I have today, I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said in response to a reporter’s question during a news conference called to discuss updates to the probe of a shooting at a military base last year in Pensacola, Florida. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

A spokesman for Obama declined to comment to the Journal. Biden didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Barr didn’t provide details on exactly what or whom Durham was investigating, but he expressed concern generally about a trend to “gin up allegations of criminality by one’s political opponents based on the flimsiest of legal theories.”

He didn’t directly address remarks made in recent weeks by President Trump and some of his conservative allies that have suggested without evidence that. Obama and Biden—who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Trump’s expected 2020 opponent—had engaged in criminal acts to spy on his 2016 election campaign.

Speaking at the White House Monday afternoon, the president said he was a “little surprised” by  Barr’s announcement about the former president and vice president, adding that “if it was me, I guarantee they’d be going after me.” He said he had “no doubt” that. Biden and Obama were involved in what he called the “takedown of a president.”

Still, the president called Barr an “honorable man” and said he would rely on him to “make all of those decisions.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Thousands of former DOJ employees again call for Barr’s resignation

May 12, 2020

On May 11, more than 1,900 former Justice Department employees repeated their demand for Attorney General Bill Barr to head for the exits—asserting in an open letter that he had “once again assaulted the rule of law” by moving to drop charges against President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael  Flynn, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The letter, organized by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy, was signed by Justice Department staffers serving in Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961). The vast majority were former career staffers — rather than political appointees — who worked as federal prosecutors or supervisors at U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country or the Justice Department in downtown Washington.

The signatories to the letter were united in their belief that Barr should resign, as the following excerpt shows:

In December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States …. The Department [of Justice] has now moved to dismiss the charges against Flynn, in a filing signed by a single political appointee and no career prosecutors. The Department’s purported justification for doing so does not hold up to scrutiny, given the ample evidence that the investigation was well-founded and — more importantly—the fact that Flynn admitted under oath and in open court that he told material lies to the FBI in violation of longstanding federal law.

Make no mistake: The Department’s action is extraordinarily rare, if not unprecedented. If any of us, or anyone reading this statement who is not a friend of the President, were to lie to federal investigators in the course of a properly predicated counterintelligence investigation, and admit we did so under oath, we would be prosecuted for it.

We thus unequivocally support the decision of the career prosecutor who withdrew from the Flynn case, just as we supported the prosecutors who withdrew from the Stone case. They are upholding the oath that we all took, and we call on their colleagues to continue to follow their example. President Trump accused the career investigators and prosecutors involved in the Flynn case of “treason” and threatened that they should pay “a big price.” It is incumbent upon the other branches of government to protect from retaliation these public servants and any others who are targeted for seeking to uphold their oaths of office and pursue justice.

It is now up to the district court to consider the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn indictment. We urge Judge Sullivan to closely examine the Department’s stated rationale for dismissing the charges — including holding an evidentiary hearing with witnesses — and to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate. While it is rare for a court to deny the Department’s request to dismiss an indictment, if ever there were a case where the public interest counseled the court to take a long, hard look at the government’s explanation and the evidence, it is this one. Attorney General Barr’s repeated actions to use the Department as a tool to further President Trump’s personal and political interests have undermined any claim to the deference that courts usually apply to the Department’s decisions about whether or not to prosecute a case.

Finally, in our previous statement, we called on Attorney General Barr to resign, although we recognized then that there was little chance that he would do so. We continue to believe that it would be best for the integrity of the Justice Department and for our democracy for Attorney General Barr to step aside. In the meantime, we call on Congress to hold the Attorney General accountable. In the midst of the greatest public health crisis our nation has faced in over a century, we would all prefer it if Congress could focus on the health and prosperity of Americans, not threats to the health of our democracy. Yet Attorney General Barr has left Congress with no choice. Attorney General Barr was previously set to give testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, but the hearing was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge the Committee to reschedule Attorney General Barr’s testimony as soon as safely possible and demand that he answer for his abuses of power. We also call upon Congress to formally censure Attorney General Barr for his repeated assaults on the rule of law in doing the President’s personal bidding rather than acting in the public interest. Our democracy depends on a Department of Justice that acts as an independent arbiter of equal justice, not as an arm of the president’s political apparatus.

A spokeswoman for Barr did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. However, Barr has publicly defended the move, telling CBS News that it was an “easy” decision and one for which he was prepared to take criticism. As the group of Justice Department alumni acknowledged, their letter is unlikely to persuade him to step down.

“I also think it’s sad that nowadays these partisan feelings are so strong that people have lost any sense of justice,” Barr told CBS News. “And the groups that usually worry about civil liberties and making sure that there’s proper procedures followed and standards set seem to be ignoring it and willing to destroy people’s lives and see great injustices done.”

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan must still approve the department’s request to drop the case, and so far has not indicated what he will do. The Justice Department alumni asked Sullivan to hold a hearing with witnesses to examine Barr’s legal reasoning and “to deny the motion and proceed with sentencing if appropriate.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump calls Michael Flynn ‘a hero’ after DOJ drops charges

May 11, 2020

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may now be free and clear of the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017—and President Donald Trump is a happy man.

After Barr’s Department of Justice dropped charges on May 7, Trump—who has said that he would be open to bringing Flynn back to the White House—showered praise on his former aide, calling him “an innocent man,” “a great gentleman” and “a hero,” according to a report by Forbes.

Indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Flynn throughout the three years that the case against him has been on the books : In February 2017, after just weeks on the job, Flynn was (reluctantly) fired from his post at the White House after he gave false statements about his relationship with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, FBI investigators, White House aides, and the media.

Flynn admitted to talks with the ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, during which he had promised to ease Russian sanctions instituted by the Obama administration, the news outlet noted. In pleading guilty, Flynn said “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right …. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Nevertheless, after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI (and others in the administration) about Russian contacts, Trump celebrated the news and launched into a rant about the Justice Department under President Barack Obama—saying the department’s investigation into Flynn was treasonous, Forbes reports.

Treason, which carries a penalty of death, has a strict definition: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere.”

However, Forbes said, Trump hurled insults at the former administration, calling them “dishonest crooked people” and “human scum,” while also claiming the media is “very complicit” and that people who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting are “not journalists, they’re thieves.”

Indeed, according to Forbes, Trump and Flynn’s team have latched on to newly unsealed documents that they claim showcase corruption in Flynn’s charging. Handwritten notes from the FBI detail how they will conduct an interview with Flynn in 2017. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it.”

The notes also say, “If we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games ….We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

What will happen next? Judge Emmet Sullivan, the presiding judge on the case, is no pushover. While the DOJ has dismissed its charges, Sullivan knows that Flynn pleaded guilty—and may be unlikely to let him off so easily. He is also is not likely to introduce the equivocal and inconclusive new documents at this juncture.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: @Forbes

Federal judge challenges Barr’s interpretation and oversight of Mueller report

March 9, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday, March 5, accused Attorney General Bill Barr of a lack of candor and questioned his credibility in his handling of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report last year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed to the bench in 2001 by President George W. Bush, posed questions about Barr’s interpretation and treatment of the report in a ruling on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that sought to obtain the redacted portions of the report.

According to the Journal, the judge noted in his ruling that there may be reason to believe that Barr, in summarizing the report weeks before a redacted version was released to the public, intended “to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report—a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report.”

Judge Walton went on to say that he would review the full Mueller report, including the material not publicly released, to give Americans confidence that the Justice Department’s redactions were made for good cause. The decision opens the door to additional parts of the Mueller report being unredacted and made public.

The judge’s ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act case brought by BuzzFeed journalist Jason Leopold and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a group that advocates on civil liberties and privacy issues. Both sought access to the special counsel report under the act, which provides for public access to government information.

Much of the 448-page report was released to the public in April 2019, although several categories of information were redacted.

Democrats in Congress have been seeking access to the fuller report, as have journalists and transparency activists, the Journal stated.

Judge Walton criticized the way in which the attorney general had rolled out the report. Barr issued a letter that critics say inaccurately summarized the central findings of the report in the weeks between when it was wrapped up and when it was made available to the public in redacted form.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Wall Street Journal. The department has previously defended its handling of the release of the report, saying it contained substantial amounts of information that required redaction.

The report, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, found extensive efforts by Moscow to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump but didn’t find collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. It also investigated whether President Trump obstructed the investigation.

On the obstruction issue, Barr’s letter said the special counsel investigation failed to establish that President Trump was involved in a crime. Mueller wrote in his report that he didn’t reach a conclusion one way or another, leaving it to Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to decide no crime had been committed.

Mueller later complained in a letter to the attorney general that the summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

The judge said there were “inconsistencies” in the attorney general’s statements that required him to apply additional judicial scrutiny to the request from journalists and activists to possibly unredact more of the report.

Research contact: @WSJ

Barr balks, as Trump declares himself America’s ‘chief law enforcement officer’

February 20, 2020

During his Senate impeachment trial, Democrats repeatedly asserted that President Donald Trump was and is “not above the law.” But since his acquittal by the upper chamber two weeks ago, the president has taken a series of steps aimed at showing that he is “large and in charge.”

On Tuesday, February 18, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, The Washington Post reported—thereby, circumventing the usual Justice Department process.

The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for his friend Roger Stoneattack a federal judge officiating on that case, accuse a juror of bias, and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

According to the Post, Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. “I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip that would touch down in California, Nevada, and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

However, the nation’s actual top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Bill Barr, isn’t having any of that—even if he has aligned himself closely with the president and skirted both the legal code and the Constitution to support the POTUS.

Indeed, the president’s post-impeachment behavior—and constant tweets referring to the adjudication of cases—has so alarmed Barr, The Washington Post was first to report, that he told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters.

It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

At this point, over 2,000 former Justice Department employees  have signed a public letter this week urging Barr to resign. The head of the Federal Judges Association also has called an emergency meeting to address growing concerns about political interference in the Stone case.

onvicted Stone last year of lying to Congress and obstruction in a case that Trump has repeatedly condemned as unfair, while leaving open the prospect of issuing a pardon for his friend and political ally.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

In open letter, 1,000 DOJ alumni condemn abuse of power and call for AG Barr to step down

February 18, 2020

More than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials called on Attorney General Bill Barr on Sunday, February 16, to step down after he intervened last week to reduce the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation for President Donald Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone.

They also urged current government employees to report any signs of unethical behavior at the Justice Department to the agency’s inspector general and to Congress.

The statement was prompted by the attorney general’s decision to overrule his own prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations for Stone after the president complained they were too harsh. The full text of the letter, distributed by the nonprofit organization Protect Democracy, reads as follows:

We, the undersigned, are alumni of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) who have collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice.

As former DOJ officials, we each proudly took an oath to support and defend our Constitution and faithfully execute the duties of our offices. The very first of these duties is to apply the law equally to all Americans. This obligation flows directly from the Constitution, and it is embedded in countless rules and laws governing the conduct of DOJ lawyers. The Justice Manual — the DOJ’s rulebook for its lawyers — states that “the rule of law depends on the evenhanded administration of justice”; that the Department’s legal decisions “must be impartial and insulated from political influence”; and that the Department’s prosecutorial powers, in particular, must be “exercised free from partisan consideration.”

All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.

And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes. The Department has a long-standing practice in which political appointees set broad policies that line prosecutors apply to individual cases. That practice exists to animate the constitutional principles regarding the even-handed application of the law. Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case. It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.

Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice. In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.

We welcome Attorney General Barr’s belated acknowledgment that the DOJ’s law enforcement decisions must be independent of politics; that it is wrong for the President to interfere in specific enforcement matters, either to punish his opponents or to help his friends; and that the President’s public comments on DOJ matters have gravely damaged the Department’s credibility. But Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department’s career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice.

For these reasons, we support and commend the four career prosecutors who upheld their oaths and stood up for the Department’s independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning from the Department. Our simple message to them is that we — and millions of other Americans — stand with them. And we call on every DOJ employee to follow their heroic example and be prepared to report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress; to refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to withdraw from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary, to resign and report publicly — in a manner consistent with professional ethics — to the American people the reasons for their resignation. We likewise call on the other branches of government to protect from retaliation those employees who uphold their oaths in the face of unlawful directives. The rule of law and the survival of our Republic demand nothing less.

If you are a former DOJ employee and would like to add your name, click here. Protect Democracy will update this list daily with new signatories.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Justice Department said the case had not been discussed with anyone at the White House, but that Trump congratulated Barr on his decision did little to dispel the perception of political influence.

 

Research contact: @ProOurDemocracy

All four Roger Stone prosecutors resign from case after ‘Scofflaw AG’ pushes for shorter sentence

February 13, 2020

Attorney General Bill Barr has become the nation’s leading scofflaw, as he continues to put the president and his henchmen ahead of his own Constitutional duties.

Indeed, the entire team prosecuting Roger Stone abruptly resigned from the criminal case on Tuesday, February 12, NBC News reports, after the Justice Department announced that the recommended sentence for Stone, a longtime Trump associate, would be reduced.

The request for a shorter sentence for Stone than the recommended term of seven to nine years in prison came after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”

The revised recommendation doesn’t ask for a particular sentence but says the one that was recommended earlier “does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter” and that the actual sentence should be “far less.”

It urges the judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, to consider Stone’s “advanced age, health, personal circumstances, and lack of criminal history in fashioning an appropriate sentence,” the network news outlet notes.

“The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration,” but based “on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances. Ultimately, the government defers to the Court as to what specific sentence is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case,” the filing said.

After reports that a softer sentencing recommendation was imminent, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney had resigned effective immediately.”

Zelinsky, who was a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. attorney in Maryland.

Another prosecutor, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned—both from the case and as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.” The other two prosecutors, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, also withdrew from the case, NBC News reporrted.

Trump in a tweet earlier Tuesday called the department’s initial sentencing proposal “disgraceful!

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in a follow-up post on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Top Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told NBC News that the decision to reverse course on the sentencing recommendation was made prior to Trump’s almost 2 a.m. tweet.

The president told reporters in the Oval Office later Tuesday that he did not speak to DOJ about Stone’s sentencing. “I’d be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe,” he said, before adding that he “thought the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous.”

“I thought it was an insult to our country and it shouldn’t happen,” Trump said. “These are the same Mueller people who put everybody through hell and I think it’s a disgrace.”

In another tweet, the president suggested that the prosecutors had abused their authority. “Prosecutorial Misconduct?” he wrote in response to a tweet suggesting a pardon for Stone.

In response, NBC News reported, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)  called on the Justice Department Inspector General to “open an investigation immediately.”

“The president seems to think the entire Justice Department is just his personal lawsuit to prosecute his enemies and help his friends. Rule of law in this grand tradition in this wonderful Justice Department is just being totally perverted to Donald Trump’s own personal desires and needs and it’s a disgrace,” Schumer told reporters in Washington. “Roger Stone should get the full amount of time the prosecutors recommended and we’re going to do some oversight of that.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

2020 Democratic candidates comment on redaction and release of Mueller report

April 22, 2019

“To impeach or not to impeach: that is the question,” to paraphrase William Shakespeare—and on April 19, CBS News asked the top presidential hopefuls about their thoughts, following the release of the redacted Mueller report.

The following are their statements, tweets, and comments—sent from the campaign trail.

Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont): In a statement directly to CBS News, Sanders said, “It is clear that Donald Trump wanted nothing more than to shut down the Mueller investigation. While we have more detail from today’s report than before, Congress must continue its investigation into Trump’s conduct and any foreign attempts to influence our election. We must also work to do everything we can to protect our future elections from the significant threat of foreign interference, and I call on President Trump and Republican leadership to stop obstructing the necessary work to protect our democracy.”

Senator Kamala Harris (California): On Twitter, Harris wrote, “Barr is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda. Americans deserve the unvarnished truth. We need Special Counsel Mueller to testify publicly in Congress.”

Former Representative Beto O’Rourke (Texas): At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, O’Rourke told reporters, “I think the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, must maintain a significant level of independence; if they are going to be able to uphold the law in a country that defines itself as a nation of laws and says that no person, including those in the highest positions of power, [is] above the law.”

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Indiana): On Twitter on April 18, Buttigieg wrote, “The Mueller report is a disturbing, if not completely surprising, collection of evidence that shows a president putting his own interests ahead of the country’s. Today again demonstrates why we need to change the channel in 2020.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts):  On Twitter, Warren posted, “Congress needs to see the full, unredacted report. Special Counsel Robert Mueller should testify before Congress and the American people as soon as possible. Add your name if you agree, and together, we’ll fight to get to the bottom of this. https://my.elizabethwarren.com/page/s/ew-release-the-report?source=20190418tw

Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota): On Twitter, Klobuchar wrote, “Attorney General Barr has made it clear he is not impartial when it comes to this investigation. Now that we have the report, we should hear from Robert Mueller himself in public hearings. Our democracy demands it.”

Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey): On Twitter, Booker posted, “The Trump administration posted an unsearchable pdf of the Mueller report so it would be harder for you to read.We made it easier. Here’s a searchable version: https://www.scribd.com/document/406729844/Mueller-Report …

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York):  On Twitter, Gillibrand wrote, “We can’t trust Trump’s handpicked AG to be transparent about the Mueller report. Congress needs to see it in full—and the public needs to know whether Trump obstructed justice.Sign our petition calling on Barr to release the full report: https://action.kirstengillibrand.com/kg2020-mueller-report?code=kg2020-mueller-report-social&redirect=https%3A%2F%2Fsecure.actblue.com%2Fcontribute%2Fpage%2Fkg2020-mueller-report%3Frefcode%3Dkg2020-mueller-report-social …

Senator Jay Inslee (Washington): On Twitter, Inslee wrote, “Congress must get to the bottom of this and have Mr. Mueller testify to complete this investigation. There is no other option. America deserves this. Donald Trump can’t run from this anymore.”

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Representative Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii): On Twitter, Gabbard wrote, “#BarrCoverUp. The most dangerous coverup is that US voting machines are vulnerable to hackers. If we lose faith in election results, democracy crumbles. The Justice Dept should be focused on instituting paper ballot backups, per my Securing America’s Elections Act. #MuellerReport

Former Governor John Hickenlooper (Colorado): On Twitter, Hickenlooper wrote, “AG Barr should work to protect the interests of the people, not the President. It’s clear from this morning’s press conference where his allegiances lie. The American people deserve answers.”

Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (Texas): On Twitter, Castro wrote, “Far from exonerating anyone, the Special Counsel report exposes disgraceful behavior by Donald Trump and his inner circle—both in seeking assistance from Russia & attempting to cover it up. Mueller should testify and Congress should investigate charges of obstruction of justice.”

Andrew Yang (New York): On Twitter, Yang wrote, “I am glad that the Mueller Report has been made public. It’s important to the American people. My focus is on beating Donald Trump at the ballot box and solving the problems that got him elected in the first place.”

Research contact: @CBSNews