Bill Barr Breaks The Justice Department
Sorry to interrupt your morning, but HOLY SHIT, THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT IS ON FIRE! Not only has Bill Barr intervened in the Roger Stone prosecution, but he's been personally interfering in all kinds of cases to make his raving lunatic boss happy. Remember when the DOJ decided that, on second thought, saintly Michael Flynn deserved no jail time after all? Just another little gift from Uncle Billy! There's simply no way to overstate the magnitude of this crisis. If the Justice Department is governed entirely at the whims of one man, then there is no law at all.
Okay, let's all breathe into a paper bag together and see if we can break it down.
DOJ Cuts the Legs Out From Under Line Prosecutors
Yesterday morning, attorneys from the US Attorney's Office in DC learned from Fox News that an anonymous spokesman from Main Justice had told the media that the 7-9 year sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone was "excessive and grossly disproportionate to Mr. Stone's offenses." The ink was barely dry on the sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors on Monday night, but moments after Trump's tweet, the DOJ promised that a new memo would be filed by the end of the day asking Judge Amy Berman Jackson to take it easy on Trump's poor, old pal.
Here's the signature page from Stone's original sentencing memo filed Monday night.
Timothy Shea is the lackey Barr stuck in as (acting) US Attorney for DC after unceremoniously shoving Jessie Liu out the door two weeks ago. (And you can bet Trump is going to let Shea stay "acting" forever, since nominating him permanently would mean putting him in front of the Senate where he would be asked questions about this catastrofuck.)
Every other attorney on that list filed a motion with the court yesterday withdrawing his appearance on the Stone case, and Kravis quit the Justice Department entirely. There is no clearer signal that something is very, very wrong inside DOJ. And right on cue ...
Just how bad is the corruption at the Justice Department? Tell us, NBC:
But that wasn't the first time senior political appointees had reached into a case involving a former Trump aide, officials told NBC News. Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government's sentencing recommendation for Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While the prosecutors had once recommended up to six months in jail, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate.
Holy shit, that's BAD! Loretta Lynch recused herself from the Clinton email investigation after having a ten minute chat on the tarmac with Bill Clinton. But Bill Barr is "tak[ing] control of legal matters of personal interest to President Donald Trump," including ginning up efforts to prosecute James Comey and Andrew McCabe, launching a criminal investigation to "prove" that the FBI should have ignored efforts by the Russians to coordinate their ratfucking with the Trump campaign, and now making sure that Trump's cronies get no jail time.
They're not even trying to hide it anymore.
Remember yesterday when the DOJ pinky swore that Donald Trump never nohow told them to make damn sure that his old pal Roger stayed out of the clink? They also claim that the timing of the DOJ's reversal just hours after Trump's 6:53 AM pooptweet was "an inconvenient coincidence." Because these assholes think we're all a bunch of goddamn idiots.
The New Pleading Is Pathetic
Your Honor, while we concede that the sentencing guidelines do call for 7-9 years, we cannot in good conscience recommend such a long term of incarceration for an old man who really meant no harm. For instance, when Stone ordered Randy Credico to lie to Congress or he would file a false bar complaint against his lawyer, threatened to take his dog, and said, "Prepare to die, cocksucker," it was really just friendly banter. And although he repeatedly violated the court's gag order, Roger Stone is a nice white guy with friends in high places. Very high places. Anyway, the DOJ would never think to tell the court to deviate downward from the sentencing guidelines, but ... well, it's all in your hands, Judge Jackson!
More or less. Oh, fine, you don't like our treason paraphrase of this new bullshit sentencing memo?
The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration that is "sufficient, but not greater than necessary" to satisfy the factors set forth in Section 3553(a). 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.
Trump was less subtle.
Every word of that is a lie, of course. In June of 2018, after Manafort's bail was revoked because he tried to tamper with witnesses against him, he was incarcerated in a special wing of the Northern Neck Regional Jail in a room with his own private bath and shower, a phone, a laptop, separate working quarters to prepare for his trials, and no obligation to wear a prison uniform. His own lawyers complained about having to travel to meet with him, and US District Judge T. S. Ellis III transferred him to jail in Alexandria, where the prison warden — not a judge — made the decision to segregate him from the general population for his own safety. He remained there throughout his case before Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
All of which is basically academic when compared to the gross impropriety of the president of the United States shit-tweeting at a federal judge.
So, Now What?
No one knows, right? Is there rule of law in this country any more? Not if Republicans have anything to do with it!
Congressional Democrats have demanded hearings into Barr's interference into the Stone case, but Barr has consistently flouted subpoenas, and he surely will for as long he remains in office.
As for Roger Stone's sentencing, the ball is in Judge Jackson's court. She can haul the Justice Department attorneys in and demand an explanation, or she can just sentence him whatever she thinks is appropriate. And then Trump can pardon him, as he's clearly wanted to do all along.
So, TL, DR, vote your conscience. Vote your heart. But vote blue, no matter who, if you want your children to grow up in a nation of laws.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.