Trump Claims Legal Right to Intervene in Criminal Cases

Today’s development in the Roger Stone case:

A day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly warned President Trump not to tweet about the Justice Department, Trump did just that, declaring that he has the “legal right” to ask his top law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case.

Back story, which should be subtitled “Bill Barr Is a Lying Sack of Shit”:

Barr’s story of how he decided to intervene in Roger Stone’s sentencing makes no sense. Lawrence O’Donnell walks us through the essential screwiness of Barr’s claims.

See also Greg Sargent.

On ABC, Barr offered his first detailed account of the mess involving Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering to obstruct investigations into Russian subversion of the 2016 election for Trump.

Barr recounted that a top deputy — apparently Timothy Shea, a longtime Barr adviser just installed as U.S. attorney in Washington — had grown concerned that sentencing guidelines would dictate too draconian a punishment.

Stone’s prosecutors wanted to recommend the stiff sentence. But Barr wanted the judge to make the determination without any affirmative department recommendation.

Barr claimed he thought this was the approach all agreed would be followed, but that the prosecutors submitted the stiffer recommendation, which “surprised” him. He claimed he then started the process to undo this — before Trump tweeted his rage at 2 a.m. the next day.

Later the next morning, Barr was already preparing to implement the change when he was notified about Trump’s tweet — meaning Trump’s rage didn’t influence him. Barr claimed Trump’s tweet boxed him in — reversing the sentence would now smack of carrying out Trump’s bidding.

This account is actually very damning. The most charitable interpretation here is that Trump has openly sought to corrupt the process. By Barr’s own implicit admission, Trump’s rage could only be construed as an effort to manipulate law enforcement — after all, this is precisely what, by Barr’s account, boxed him in.

And, frankly, today hardly anyone believes that Barr decided to intervene on his own, and not on orders from Trump. The ABC interview and Trump’s subsequent tweets saying he hadn’t talked to Barr are obviously contrived.

I suspect that, even as I keyboard, legal experts are composing op eds on the limitations of the president’s powers in criminal cases, and as soon as that happens I’ll post some links. Seems to me he’s coloring outside the lines again.

And then there is today’s decision to drop the prosecution of Andrew McCabe:

Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump, will not face charges in an investigation into whether he lied to investigators about a media leak, his defense team said on Friday.

The decision by prosecutors in Washington ends a case that had left Mr. McCabe in legal limbo for nearly two years. It also appears to be a sign that Attorney General William P. Barr wants to show that the Justice Department is independent from Mr. Trump: The notification came a day after Mr. Barr publicly challenged the president to stop attacking law enforcement officials on Twitter and said the criticisms were making his job more difficult.

I haven’t been following the McCabe prosecution all that closely, but I noticed this tweet today from a national security correspondent for Politico:

There is more to this backstory than I understand yet, but I’ll watch for better explanations.

Barr has also ordered a review of the Michael Flynn case. That bears watching, at the very least. Tierney Sneed and Matt Shuham at TPM that this is part of Barr’s “investigate the investigators” crusade.

Attorney General Bill Barr has brought in outside prosecutors to review the decisions made by the DOJ attorneys who have been handling the Michael Flynn case and other politically sensitive matters — some publicly known, some not — coming from within the U.S. Attorneys office in D.C, the New York Times and NBC News reported Friday.

See also Eugene Robinson, America, the banana republic.

5 thoughts on “Trump Claims Legal Right to Intervene in Criminal Cases

  1. This is what I want to see in a candidate:
    <img src=""/.

    That short clip is Russell Crowe, in "Gladiator". Whoever is doing Bloomberg's media is amazing. I saw a tweet stream of "The Donalds" – a fake oscar show, during the real Oscars – and so spot on funny in nasty-to-Trump way. Not only are they media savvy, they're psychologically sharp. They know exactly how to kill. This is how you take down a bully. This is going to be one of the most entertaining political seasons ever. Everyone is going to wake up a bit more as to what's going on.

    Love it that Barr is squirming. If there ever was anybody who needed to squirm it's Opus Dei Barr.

    • moonbat — I told someone else today that maybe we should find who is producing Bloomberg’s ads and nominate that person.

    • Here's one that I got a kick out of. I can almost see it happening just like that infamous front page picture of Manuel Noriega back in the 90's

      Just want to restate my heart's desire…I'm wishing misery on that corrupt bag of shit and I'm praying that misfortune seeks him out and overtakes him..  It's nothing personal, you understand, it's the same as the writer of  the Psalms when he expressed wanting to see the corrupt and wicked one have his bones crushed or his teeth shattered. The writer of Psalms seemed pretty pissed off and angry and was crying out for the Lord to do a number on whoever he was targeting in his pleas. It wasn't personal for him either. It was the evil, and corruption, and wickedness, an injustice that was embodied in whoever was empowered to be a servant of righteousness yet chose to serve their own selfishness.. Just like Trump.

      Anyway, I wouldn't be averse to some divine justice befalling Trump in the form a nasty physical ailment..Just something to take the spring out of his step. Big bag o' shit that he is!

  2. Bill (needs to be dis-)Barr(ed), is both tRUMP's Roy Cohn, AND his Winton "The Wolf" Wolfe – "The Fixer," from "Pulp Fiction."

    Barr(f!), put on a good show for some uninvolved rubes the other day.  But his complaining about tRUMP's twitter word-turds hurting him, meant only ONE thing:

    The presiDUNCES twitter screeds make it MORE dufficult for Barr(f!) to f*ck around  with the existing justice system.

    Barr(f!) is telling the presiDUNCE to STFU, while he continues to f*ck with the DOJ.

    Barr(f!) HAD to make that ABC interview because 4 prosecutors quit when he and tRUMP put their fat thumbs on Lady Liberty's scales in favor of Roger "The King if Ratfuckery!"

    More resignations, folks!  

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