Judiciary Committee Dems Call On Graham To Probe Political Interference In Stone Case

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) attends the State of the Union address in the chamber of the House of Representatives on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
February 13, 2020 11:20 a.m.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats on Thursday called on Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to investigate the involvement of senior Justice Department officials in watering down Roger Stone’s proposed prison sentence.

“The Justice Department’s mission ‘to ensure fair and impartial justice for all Americans’ requires that its prosecutorial decisions remain free from political influence,” the Democrats, led by Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), wrote. “It’s becoming clear that this is not happening.”

After an angry 2 a.m. tweet from President Donald Trump Tuesday about career prosecutors’ 7–9 year proposed prison sentence for Stone, senior DOJ officials stepped in and proposed a lesser punishment. Stone was found guilty in November of all counts against him, including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice

Four career prosecutors who’d worked on the Stone matter withdrew their names from the case, and one left the Justice Department entirely.

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“This is a red flag, as is recent reporting that Attorney General Barr has personally assumed control of all cases of personal or political interest to President Trump,” the committee Democrats wrote.

After that, Trump tweeted “congratulations” to Attorney General Bill Barr for “taking charge” of the case — a seeming admission of Barr’s involvement.

On Thursday the attacks continued, with Trump launching speculative tweets attacking the jury in Stone’s case and the purported political biases of jurors; issues that Stone’s own attorneys had a chance to address at the start of his trial.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also urged Graham to hold an emergency hearing on political intervention in Stone’s and other sensitive cases. But Graham, a fierce ally of Trump’s, isn’t likely to heed Democrats’ call for an investigation: He told reporters Wednesday that he wouldn’t call Barr to testify on the matter. “He’ll come in as part of oversight, but we’re not going to call him based on this,” he said.

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