This has been an amazing day. Donald Trump tweeted at 1:48 a.m. about how “horrible” and “unfair” the sentencing guidelines of seven to nine years were for his old buddy Roger Stone. Bill Barr wasted no time and got involved, challenging front-line prosecutors’ recommendations as “extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses,” in the words of a senior DOJ official.
That triggered the first resignation, of Aaron Zelinsky. In the next few hours the other three prosecutors, some of them who had previously worked with Robert Mueller, to wit, Johnathon Kravis, Adam C. Jed and Michael J. Merendo, also withdrew from the case. Washington Post:
Former Justice Department officials and those on the political left asserted the department’s abrupt shift on Stone was an egregious example of the president and his attorney general bending federal law enforcement to serve their political interests.
David Laufman, a former Justice Department official, called it a “shocking, cram-down political intervention” in the criminal justice process.
“We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.,” he wrote on Twitter.
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) said the move amounted to “obstruction of justice.”
“We are seeing a full-frontal assault on the rule of law in America,” Pascrell said. “Direct political interference in our justice system is a hallmark of a banana republic. Despite whatever Trump, William Barr, and their helpers think, the United States is a nation of laws and not an authoritarian’s paradise.”
Then #ImpeachBarrNow got rolling.
— ruby (@ScuttleTrump) February 11, 2020
Barr should have been impeached when he misrepresented the Mueller Report to the country and then made false statements yo Congress. He’s corrupted the DOJ.
But the GOP Senate would never remove him no matter what he did. That’s why voters need to remove them.#ImpeachBarrNow
— TheValuesVoter (@TheValuesVoter) February 11, 2020
Now here’s a thought that, at first blush, seems crazy. But listen to the rationale. Maybe this guy has something. Raw Story:
On CNN Tuesday, former FBI General Counsel James Baker suggested that as bad as it would be for President Donald Trump to pardon his former campaign strategist Roger Stone, he might as well do it now — because the turmoil he is creating at the Department of Justice over the case, and the resignations of career prosecutors, is doing even worse damage to the country.
“While I am proud of the prosecutors, this is a bad day for the Justice Department,” said Baker. “And everybody knows that the president is going to pardon Roger Stone. So just do it. Do it now, and don’t wait for the day after the election when you are going to do it. It is better to frankly abuse that power of the pardon power than trash the Department of Justice. So I would say, Mr. President, just go ahead and pardon him, and jump to what is going to happen.”
This seems a bit extreme to me, but maybe Baker is right. But if Trump did do this, then it might be one more small step into the gutter for Trump but it will be one giant leap towards the banana republic that we’ve seen the United States coalesce into since Trump first got on the GOP ticket. Trump came down the escalator and America went down the tubes, one two three. It’s happened that fast.
Think of the message pardoning Stone will send: he’s guilty as hell and was adjudged as such, and then Trump, who is even more crooked than Stone, decided to throw the rule of law in the sewer, abuse the pardon power, and pardon Stone. Wow. Great lesson for the kids in their school books. It’s a new day in America, that’s for sure. Locked into Three A.M. perpetually — until we get Trump out.