More than 2,600 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., says he should be impeached. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., insists he should be in jail.
Good heavens! What caused this mass outbreak of the vapors?
The Justice Department filed a sentencing memorandum recommending that Roger Stone be sentenced to “far less” than the seven to nine years recommended by four career prosecutors originally assigned to his case by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Why the lengthy sentence recommendation? Federal guidelines allow more time to be added for “threatening to cause physical injury to a person … in order to obstruct … justice.”
Stone allegedly told a potential witness — radio talk show host Randy Credico — that he should “prepare to die” if he testified truthfully.
Credico, however, has stated that he never felt threatened and “chalked up his bellicose tirades to ‘Stone being Stone. All bark and no bite.’ ” Credico even wrote a letter to Judge Amy Berman Jackson urging her not to send Stone to prison.
Without this “enhancement,” the sentencing range for Stone — a 67-year-old with no criminal record — would be 37 to 46 months, which Barr has suggested would be more appropriate.
Indeed, Judge Jackson ultimately sentenced Stone to 40 months.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the original recommendation was “horrible and very unfair,” prompting charges of political interference. Both Trump and Barr have stated, though, that they didn’t speak to each other about the matter. Trump’s tweets about pending cases “make it impossible for me to do my job,” Barr has rightly stated.
Has Barr’s independence been compromised? Hardly. Barr honored his pledge to let Mueller complete his investigation unimpeded and to release as much of Mueller’s report as he could. He didn’t drop the Stone prosecution or dismiss the pending charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Rudy Giuliani’s associates. He didn’t overrule recommendations not to charge former FBI Director James Comey or former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“I will not be bullied ... by anybody, whether it be editorial boards, or Congress or the president. I’m going to do what I think is right,” Barr stated during his confirmation hearing. That’s exactly what he has done here.
John G. Malcolm, a former Justice Department prosecutor, is vice president of the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Zack Smith is a legal fellow at Heritage and a former assistant U.S. attorney.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Attorney General William Barr hasn’t compromised his independence