February 11, 2020

Harris to Graham: Hold Immediate Hearing on Roger Stone Case and Make AG Barr Testify

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) demanding that the committee hold a hearing—with Attorney General Bill Barr as a witness—on potential political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone, President Trump’s former campaign advisor and longtime friend. Harris’ letter comes after reports that the Department of Justice was considering reducing the sentencing recommendation put forward by the career prosecutors overseeing Stone’s case, all four of whom have since requested to withdraw from the case, and after the Department filed an updated sentencing recommendation in the case that contradicted the career prosecutors.

“The Justice Department’s decision to overrule its career prosecutors, immediately after President Trump’s tweet, calls into question the independence and integrity of our legal system,” wrote Harris. “As the committee responsible for oversight of the Justice Department, we must review these events and assess their impact on the integrity of the Department and our system of justice.”

Harris continued, “Failure to meet basic oversight responsibilities in the face of such alarming news would send a signal to this and future administrations that the Senate no longer conducts itself as a co-equal branch of government.  Accordingly, 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.”

Full text of the letter is available here or below:

February 11, 2020

The Honorable Lindsey O. Graham

Chairman

Committee on the Judiciary

United States Senate

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C.  20510

 

Dear Chairman Graham:

On February 10, 2020, federal prosecutors filed a sentencing memorandum recommending that Roger Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison after a jury convicted him of seven felonies for obstructing Congress, lying under oath to investigators, and interfering with witness testimony related to his efforts to learn about hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  

On February 11, 2020, the morning after the sentencing memorandum was made public, President Trump criticized the recommended sentence on Twitter, saying “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them.  Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”   Just hours after President Trump’s tweet, a senior Justice Department official announced that the Department planned to overrule its career prosecutors and reduce the sentence recommendation. After the decision was announced, all four career prosecutors who handled the case against Roger Stone withdrew from the case. One prosecutor resigned from the Justice Department altogether.

The Justice Department’s decision to overrule its career prosecutors, immediately after President Trump’s tweet, calls into question the independence and integrity of our legal system. 

As the committee responsible for oversight of the Justice Department, we must review these events and assess their impact on the integrity of the Department and our system of justice.  Failure to meet basic oversight responsibilities in the face of such alarming news would send a signal to this and future administrations that the Senate no longer conducts itself as a co-equal branch of government.  Accordingly, 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.

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