February 13, 2020 10:55:40 AM
Disturbed by DOJ sentencing recommendations
All of the following relate directly to the conviction last fall of Roger Stone, long-time friend of the President's, for obstructing Congress, perjury, and witness tampering; during that trial Stone compounded matters through contempt of court and threatening the presiding judge.
Republican senator Susan Collins, said the President had been "chastened" by the recent impeachment process. I don't think so. The latest events explain why:
In the wake of impeachment, we saw the firing of two White House officials. A U.S. attorney was similarly hung out to dry. Let the blood bath of retribution begin. Is Senator Romney sufficiently armored? We'll see.
On Monday, Department of Justice attorneys who led the case against Stone submitted their sentencing recommendations. The recommendation was well within the guidelines set forth by the US Sentencing Commission and traditionally followed by DOJ. By all accounts, Attorney General William Barr was aware of this recommendation in advance.
Overnight Tuesday, in a string of tweets, President Trump labeled the recommendations grossly unfair and directly questioned the integrity of the presiding judge -- using her name, ignoring the fact that the judge has a lengthy record of bipartisan rulings. Though this judge is not required to follow any recommendation from either prosecution or defense, they are now in a box: sentence lightly and give the ruling a political appearance or sentence in accord with the original recommendations and cross the President? This is why presidents should not attempt to interfere with the judiciary - and why they, until now, never have.
DOJ then reissued a lighter sentencing recommendation including the suggestion that Stone simply go straight to probation. Outraged at this sequence, all four DOJ prosecuting attorneys -- career employees -- resigned from the case in protest. One of the four quit DOJ altogether -- that's how serious this is.
The timing suggests this revision could only have come as a direct result of the President's tweets. Whether or not Trump spoke directly with Barr is irrelevant; he'd made his point mob style, learned from his first fixer, Roy Cohn, now working well with his new one, Barr.
Yes, after having successfully strong-armed the Senate, Trump is now trying to pressure the other co-equal branch of government, the judiciary. In the 24 hours since I first drafted this letter there is talk of pardoning not only Stone, but Manifort and Flynn, too.
It appears that this country now subscribes to the idea that no one is above the law - unless you're the president's friend. This is a significant -- and alarming -- step towards the sort of totalitarianism I fear this President now sees as his destiny.
Chastened by impeachment, Senator Collins? Sure he was.
Regular people, your attention is now required. You should be terrified.
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