Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee want the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to investigate “an apparent pattern of political interference” at the DOJ after four career prosecutors withdrew from the Roger Stone case because Attorney General William Barr overruled their sentencing recommendation.
In a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Thursday, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee pointed to the handling of the Stone case; Barr’s appointment of an outside prosecutor to look at the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; and a number of other cases as examples of potential political interference in the prosecutorial process.
The letter points to President Donald Trump’s extensive record of pushing the Justice Department to take actions to protect allies like Stone and target his rivals, which they said “suggest political interference in the Justice Department’s work.”
“The public record provides a number of reasons to believe that President Trump or other White House officials are seeking to influence the Justice Department’s handling of certain investigations, civil lawsuits, and criminal prosecutions,” the senators, led by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), wrote. “Our concern is that politically motivated enforcement of federal law could become standard practice. This would permanently damage the integrity and independence of the Justice Department.”
A jury in November convicted Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser, on seven charges stemming from the Robert Mueller investigation. The prosecution team initially suggested Stone serve seven to nine years, but their recommendation was later overruled by Barr. A judge ultimately sentenced Stone to 40 months behind bars.
A spokeswoman for Barr declined to comment on the letter. The inspector general’s office also declined to comment.
Read the letter below.