After all the controversy about Attorney General Bill Barr allegedly yielding to criticisms over the sentencing recommendation for Trump confidant Roger Stone, Barr wound up being "vindicated" on Thursday, according to constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley.
"The sentence not only completed the conviction of Roger Stone but completely vindicated Attorney Bill Barr on the appropriate length of the sentence," Turley, who testified in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry,wrote on his website Thursday night. "Barr has been unfairly accused of political influence in modifying the original sentence even though many of us denounced the original recommendation as wildly offbase.
"Not only did over a thousand former prosecutors demand his resignation without knowing the full facts, but one former colleague declared Barr to be 'unAmerican.' If these individuals have a modicum of decency, they will acknowledge that Barr was right on the merits of this sentencing recommendation as demonstrated by the court itself."
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. Prosecutors had originally sought seven to nine years.
Then, President Donald Trump tweeted a rebuke of the hard sentence recommendation. And Barr called for a sharp reduction before the matter went back to Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee.
"If Justice officials believed that this recommendation was excessive and unsupportable, I would hope that someone would have the courage to correct and not worry about the optics," Turley added in a detailed blog post. "The Justice Department has a duty of candor to the tribunal as well as a duty to do justice. If this sentence was viewed as excessive, it should be corrected."
Turley, a self-proclaimed Democrat, faced his own criticism for his arguments in the recent Trump impeachment inquiry, and fired back at the media's unfairness in the Stone sentencing controversy.
"Not surprisingly, the media seems to have moved on with little recognition that the original recommendation was manifestly wrong and excessive," Turley added. "Instead, the media besmirched Barr's reputation and then failed to report the countervailing facts."
Turley concluded that Thursday's sentencing might ultimately lead to the question of a presidential pardon, which Trump announced Thursday would be considered only after the case runs its course.
"After the court came down precisely where some of us predicted, it just moved on to the question of whether Stone would be pardoned," Turley wrote. "Even with a justifiably angry court, the sentence came in at 40 months rather than 108 months."
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