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Pascrell Demands Answers from Barr

Letter to Attorney General follows quartet of resignations (so far) in response to Trump interference in Roger Stone sentencing

Washington, D.C., February 11, 2020

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today wrote to Attorney General William Barr regarding potential obstruction of justice by Barr and his department. Pascrell’s letter cites the Justice Department’s unprecedented decision to overturn its own original sentencing recommendation of former Trump advisor Roger Stone, who was convicted of seven federal felonies including obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements. The stunning reversal came mere hours after Donald Trump publicly interfered in Stone’s trial via Twitter.

“No rational or honest person can infer anything except that the outrageous decision to overturn your department’s original sentencing recommendation was made in reaction to Trump’s tirade,” Pascrell writes. “The decision to alter its sentencing recommendation is nothing less than a further escalation of your department’s continuing full-frontal assault on the rule of law and bears more than a faint whiff of banana republicanism.”

In less than a year on the job, the compendium of Mr. Barr’s bad acts in office is staggering. Barr sought to mislead the public on the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and likely lied to Congress on at least two occasions. He was also found in contempt of Congress by the House for refusing to comply with a legally-imposed subpoena. A letter from a whistleblower alleges that Barr has helped Donald Trump pressure foreign governments to open political investigations into Trump’s political foes and meddle in U.S. elections.

“Despite occupying your post for just shy of one year, you have presided over an institutional corruption of your sacred office not seen in our national history. Your openly stated viewpoints on executive power and your actions seeking to metamorphosize U.S. law enforcement into a bodyguard for the White House bear a fanaticism that, left unchecked, would render our vibrant constitutional order into an authoritarian monarchy. The actions by your department on February 11 confirm my worst fears of your leadership,” Pascrell concludes.

Rep. Pascrell has been one of Congress’s strongest critics of corruption in the Trump government and of William Barr’s tenure at the Department of Justice. Pascrell has been calling for Barr’s impeachment since May 2019. In October 2019, Pascrell wrote to the Board of Bar Examiners for the District of Columbia and for Virginia calling on them to revoke Barr’s licenses to practice law.

A copy of Rep. Pascrell’s letter can be viewed here, the text of which follows:

 

February 11, 2020

 

The Honorable William P. Barr

Attorney General

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20530

 

Dear Mr. Barr:

I write to you today regarding possible obstruction of justice by your department. On February 10, 2020, prosecutors from the Justice Department requested a federal judge to sentence Roger Stone to seven to nine years in prison for his conviction on seven federal felonies including obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements.[i] However, on February 11, officials from Justice backtracked and indicated they would recommend a lighter sentence for Stone. Their stunning reversal came hours after Donald Trump threw a temper tantrum on Twitter at prosecutors’ original sentencing recommendation for Stone, Mr. Trump’s former advisor and close associate.[ii]

No rational or honest person can infer anything except that the outrageous decision to overturn your department’s original sentencing recommendation was made in reaction to Trump’s tirade. The decision to alter its sentencing recommendation is nothing less than a further escalation of your department’s continuing full-frontal assault on the rule of law and bears more than a faint whiff of banana republicanism. Indeed, since the announcement was made, four prosecutors on the team involved in Mr. Stone’s adjudication, Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed, and Michael Marado, have reportedly already requested resignation.[iii] In light of the actions today by your department, please provide answers to the questions below.

  • Was the decision to reverse the department’s original sentencing recommendation of Roger Stone made at the direct or indirect request of Donald Trump or any figures employed within the White House or acting on Mr. Trump’s behalf?
  • Did you or any officials within the Justice Department consult with Donald Trump, officials within the White House, or any other parties regarding Mr. Stone’s sentencing prior to the original sentencing recommendation of February 10 or in the intervening period between Donald Trump’s tweet of February 11, 2020 at 1:48 am EST [iv] and your department’s announcement that it would offer a revised sentencing recommendation?
  • At any point before or since Timothy Shea’s elevation as Interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia on January 30, 2020, have you or any of your adjutants had discussions with your former close aide Mr. Shea regarding Mr. Stone’s case and sentencing? Did you or any adjutants working for you convey to Mr. Shea that he should alter or lighten sentencing recommendations for Mr. Stone?

Despite occupying your post for just shy of one year, you have presided over an institutional corruption of your sacred office not seen in our national history. Your openly stated viewpoints on executive power and your actions seeking to metamorphosize U.S. law enforcement into a bodyguard for the White House bear a fanaticism that, left unchecked, would render our vibrant constitutional order into an authoritarian monarchy. The actions by your department on February 11 confirm my worst fears of your leadership. Please provide answers to my questions immediately.

 

Sincerely,

 

Bill Pascrell, Jr.

Member of Congress

 

 

 


 



[i] https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/politics/federal-prosecutors-roger-stone-sentencing/index.html

[ii] https://www.npr.org/2020/02/11/804888522/doj-to-revise-sentencing-request-for-roger-stone-following-trump-tweet

[iii] https://politicalwire.com/2020/02/11/prosecutor-resigns-from-roger-stone-case/

[iv] https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1227122206783811585

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