Attorney General William Barr has taken the lead on several legal matters of interest to President Donald Trump, including the federal case against Trump aide Roger Stone, moves that will likely prompt allegations of political interference, reports NBC News.
Barr intervened to seek a more lenient sentence for Stone, who was facing up to nine years in prison, hours after Trump called the sentence "very horrible and unfair."
"While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here, the government respectfully submits that the range of 87 to 108 months presented as the applicable advisory Guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case," the DOJ said in its memo.
Four lawyers who prosecuted Stone resigned from the case following the announcement. Two quit the Department of Justice altogether.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the DOJ inspector general requesting an investigation into the recommendation, writing: "This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution."
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also raised eyebrows at Barr's actions, sending a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
"I request that you immediately schedule a hearing for Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee so that the committee and the American people can understand the Justice Department’s decision to overrule its career prosecutors in this case," Harris wrote, according to The Hill.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also sent Graham a letter requesting an investigation.
The DOJ last month also intervened in seeking a more lenient sentencing recommendation for former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is attempting to withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI two years after he admitted to doing so.
Prosecutors had previously recommended up to six months in prison for Flynn, though the latest filing says they believe probation is enough.
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