Barr denies pattern of upholding Trump’s interests, blames ‘media narrative’

Attorney General William Barr dismissed claims that the Justice Department was pandering to the interests of President Trump after Barr fired Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), over the weekend.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked the attorney general in an interview if some of Barr’s recent decisions, including the dismissal of the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn the firing of Berman and reducing the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, were examples of President Trump working through Barr.

Barr replied that “this wasn’t a case of the president acting.”

“All cases in the Department of Justice are subject to the supervision of the attorney general,” he said. “In fact, all the powers carried out by the department are vested in the attorney general and it’s appropriate for the attorney general to exercise supervisory authority over cases.”

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the charges against Flynn, who had already agreed to a plea deal, drew widespread outcry.

Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in their investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 general election, then sought to withdraw the plea.

Berman over the weekend initially refused to resign, forcing Barr to fire him.

Trump has picked Jay Clayton, the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to be the new head prosecutor of SDNY. The district encompasses Manhattan in New York City, making its prosecutor one of the most powerful in the nation.

On Wednesday, Aaron Zelinsky, a prosecutor who worked on the Justice Department’s case against Stone, said that the department had become politicized under Barr and the president.

“What I saw was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from every other defendant,” Zelinsky told a congressional panel. “He received breaks that are, in my experience, unheard of and all the more so for a defendant in his circumstances — a defendant who lied to Congress, remained unrepentant and who made threats against a judge and a witness in his case.”

Tags Attorney general Berman firing Donald Trump Jay Clayton Jay Clayton Michael Flynn New York City Roger Stone SDNY SEC Trump William Barr William Barr
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