Attorney General-designate William Barr at his confirmation hearing.
Attorney General William Barr at his confirmation hearing.

Washington – Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Friday called on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to resign, saying he or other officials working for him unethically interfered in the case of Roger Stone, an ally and longtime adviser to President Donald Trump.

“The interference in this case by you or other senior DOJ officials working under you is a clear violation of your duty to defend fair, impartial, and equal justice for all Americans. As a result, we call on you to resign immediately,” said a letter to Barr signed by Blumenthal and eight other Senate Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Warren, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has called for the House of Representatives to start impeachment proceedings against Barr if he does not resign.

Barr ignited a firestorm this week after top Justice Department officials intervened in the sentencing of  Stone, who  has been convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

In a highly irregular reversal, the Justice Department overruled a recommendation by its team of lawyers who prosecuted Stone that he spend seven to nine years in jail. The Justice Department told the presiding judge that such a punishment – which was in line with sentencing guidelines – “would not be appropriate.”

That prompted all four career prosecutors handling the case against Stone to withdraw from the legal proceedings this week — and one to quit his job entirely.

Among those prosecutors who quit the case is New Haven native Aaron Zelinksy, who had also worked on former special counsel  Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections. Zelinsky, a Yale Law graduate, is the son of a former New Haven alderman.

Hours after Barr said his team had to amend its sentencing recommendation,  Trump  sent a middle-of-the-night, angry tweet that suggested Stone deserved leniency.

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

After the prosecutors resigned from the case, Trump issued another tweet.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” the president tweeted.

On Thursday Barr rebuked the president for his tweets.

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News.

Barr also said it was “preposterous” to suggest that he “intervened” in the case. He said he was acting instead to try to resolve a dispute about the sentencing recommendation within the department.

But Blumenthal, Warren , both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the others who wrote Barr demanding his resignation aren’t buying that argument. The say Trump’s tweets indicated the attorney general was “directly involved” in the effort to shorten Stone’s jail time, as did Barr’s interview with ABC News.

“It appears to show that you and other top DOJ officials intervened in a clearly political fashion to undermine the administration of justice at the president’s behest in order to protect a well-connected political ally who committed a ‘direct and brazen attack on the rule of law,’” the senators wrote.

Their letter also said “a DOJ that abandons the rule of law in order to give sweetheart deals to criminals acting on behalf of the President of the United States is as corrupt as it is unacceptable.”

“You and the other officials involved must be held accountable for these actions. We therefore urge you to resign from your position, effective immediately,” the senators concluded.

The  Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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20 Comments

  1. Barr does not have a logical and rational reason for usurping the role of the four prosecutors who tried the case, especially since their recommendation was within sentencing guidelines. It might not look so bad if he routinely overruled prosecutors, but his picking this particular battle… not a good look. It only solidifies the appearance that the DOJ is supporting Trump personally, as opposed to the Office of President of the United States.

  2. So lets think about his outrage for a second. When Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac, I missed Blumenthal on camera asking for her resignation. When Hillary Clinton lied to congress during the Benghazi hearing, the FBI Jim Comey refused to prosecute her for lying to congress and the language got changed and I must have missed that camera interview also. Can somebody tell me when he was on camera decrying the resignation for the two Obama Attorney Generals?

    1. Why does any least bit criticism of Trump trigger his supporters to bring up Clintons, Obama and things that happened years and years ago. It’s a sickness. It’s destraction of all the bad things Trump has done. And they are things that pale, pale, pale in comparison to all Trump’s misdeeds.

      1. Masters of distraction, remember? When you can’t credibly defend your guy’s actions (because they’re actually indefensible), simply say, “But what about… (fill in the blank)?” That kind of nonsense doesn’t even fly when a state trooper stops you for speeding when the guy in front of you got away.

      2. I will reply to both of you at the same time. When these previous attorney generals spoke their thoughts, neither the media or Blumenthal had any issues. It just so happens that both of Obama attorney generals were sited for lying to congress and one was held in contempt of congress, that the mere utterance of anything said by Attorney General Barr calls for his immediate resignation according to todays democrat standards. When Lynch made a special trip to meet with Clinton to discuss grandchildren prior to his wife’s testimony in front of congress, nothing was said. Do you honestly believe their was not classified information on her server? If that had been you or me we would still be in jail. And you wonder whether their is a double standard?

      3. More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials who served in both Republican and Democrat administrations have called for Barr to resign because he is Trump’s puppet. You are comparing apple’s to oranges in respect to level of corruption and obstruction.

      4. As of about three hours ago, that number has risen to over 2,000. And as you correctly point out, these are people who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Can’t get more bipartisan than that.

      5. Yes, over 2000 now.
        Trump wants to be Putin. Unlimited power to do whatever he wants. This is obvious. Why that doesn’t trouble at least 75% of his supporters is very troubling. Could Barr finally want to at least partially save his name for history? it obviously is seriously stained. While I am not optimistic, maybe just maybe he is jumping Trump sinking, rotting ship. The House of Cards will fall. Does he want to be on it.

      6. What do you mean, “When these previous attorney generals spoke their thoughts, neither the media or Blumenthal had any issues”? Can you cite specific instances where they did what Barr just did?

        What do you mean, “nothing was said” when Lynch met with Bill Clinton? There was a bipartisan investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee (of which Blumenthal is a member); and the DOJ Inspector General also issued a report on the matter. And it was all over the news.

        And what do you mean, “double standard”? By your own statement, Holder was held in contempt of Congress, and Lynch was investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the DOJ IG. The media reported all of that, as well as the now-over-2,000 former DOJ officials calling for Barr’s resignation.

      7. Thank you for presenting facts. It amazes me how selective, and usually untrue, memories of past administrations are put forth to normalize the corruption of this administration. The truth is, America has never seen this level of criminality in the Executive Branch. The abject fealty shown by trump’s sycophants is disturbing, to say the least.

      8. Well, Trump is always crowing about being the best at everything. He’s definitely best at corruption. And lying. And making up his own facts. And rewriting history. And divisiveness. And that’s just for starters.

      9. Larry – don’t worry about these guys. They like the nanny state of politics because it aligns with their agenda. No one called for lynch to resign during the DOJ investigation is his point, but they ask for Barrs resignation because it align with their agendas…or holder – who asked him to resign? No one.

        Can we ask blumenthal to resign because he lied about his vietnam status and basically stole valor? Nope – we can’t. As a vet i am still appalled at this but he is a democrat so i guess its ok.

  3. Some people seem to get off easier than they should and some others seem to get absolutely crushed by the politics of Washington DC. Not a very rational or fair process really. As for the prosecutors concerned who apparently went for a maximum, they don’t seem to have a public statement, though I do believe Mr. Barr is their boss, so…???

    But this yields plenty of opportunities for partisan bickering and sniping, with our CT officials once again leading the way with extreme accusations and demands. From a solid blue state, they seem to be designated bomb-throwers for the party. It’s grotesque to be always hearing their names connected with partisan hyperbole and seldom to that which is useful and dignified. Anyone else think this? Or does it make the ‘blue’ folks of CT proud having them wrestle around in the partisan mud all the time? As if ‘blue’ mud is any cleaner or prettier than ‘red’ mud?

    1. The four prosecutors did not go for “a maximum”. Stone could face up to 50 years on all the charges for which he was convicted, and the prosecutors recommended a sentence of 7-9 years. Not nearly “a maximum”. Considering Stone was also convicted of attempting to tamper with (intimidate) a witness against him, 7-9 years seems fair. What is UNfair is for the President and Attorney General to interfere in a pending case, simply because — from all appearances — the defendant is a friend of Trump’s. As for the four prosecutors not having “a public statement”, well, I think their resignations from the case (and one from the DOJ altogether) speaks volumes.

    2. These prosecutors used federal sentencing guidelines created by congress…they’re issued by the United States Sentencing Commission, and what they did is set out a range in months or years for each kind of federal crime (punishment-fits-the-crime logic) Stone was convicted of…AG Barr seemed to have ignored these guidelines…

      Think of the precedent this sends in the future (if a convicted felon knows somebody in high places, they get a light sentence, if they don’t, they get the guidelines sentence)…this kind of unfairness will destroy our nation of law and our democracy…

  4. What is amazing is how all the folks Trump over years have clamored to have investigated and locked, all have been cleared of wrongdoing. Yes, maybe they acted to a degree inappropriate, but all end up cleared. Yet, look how many of people associated with Trump have been convicted.

    And, look how many folks who had been working for or associated with Trump now don’t! Obviously, pretty telling! Because everything and everyone Trump touches is poisoned sooner or later.
    Now Barr? I doubt he’ll end up being kicked out of leave. He’s doing way too much of Trump’s bidding. He actually seems very much like Trump in ways.

    1. Being cleared of wrongdoing sadly has little to do with anything other than what side of the political spectrum you reside. The hypocrisy and corruption that has taken over what once passed for justice is destroying what this country ONCE stood for. TRUMP 2020. Our only hope for restoration of the rule of law.

  5. Roger Stone: 7 counts of obstruction, lying to congress and witness tampering, only 40 months and surely to be pardoned by fellow crook Trump. And a kid selling pot gets 5 years. What a great country….if have connections and money.

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