Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence

Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence
© Greg Nash

Rep. Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonFive takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Lawmakers, public bid farewell to John Lewis Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence MORE (D-Ga.) accused Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump prizes loyalty over competence — we are seeing the results Rep. Raúl Grijalva tests positive for COVID-19 'Unmasking' Steele dossier source: Was confidentiality ever part of the deal? MORE of lowering the recommended sentence for President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE’s longtime associate Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneNew HBO documentary lets Gaetz, Massie, Buck offer their take on how to 'drain the swamp' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Brawls on Capitol Hill on Barr and COVID-19 Democrats blister Barr during tense hearing MORE based on the president’s wishes. 

“You're expecting the American people to believe that you did not do what Trump wanted you to do when you changed that sentencing recommendation and lowered it for Roger Stone?” Johnson said Tuesday in a heated back-and-forth with Barr as part of a House Judiciary Committee hearing. 

Johnson asked Barr about the Justice Department's decision to recommend a lesser sentence for Stone after Trump tweeted that the 7-to-9-year prison sentence prosecutors initially recommended was “horrible and unfair.” 

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“You think the American people don't understand you were carrying out Trump’s will?” Johnson asked Barr. 

The attorney general said he had not discussed his sentencing recommendation with anyone in the White House or anyone outside of the Justice Department, and denied that the decision was made due to Trump's wishes. 

Asked if he thought the recommendation was in line with sentencing guidelines, Barr said it was, but in his opinion, it was not within the Justice Department's policy. 

“Do you think it is fair for a 67-year-old man to be sent to prison for seven to nine years?” Barr said. 

“It was in accordance with sentencing guidelines … you just said that it was, and your line prosecutors will testify that it was also,” Johnson replied. 

Johnson also drew a contrast between Barr’s actions in the Trump administration and his time as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush. 

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“In your time as attorney general for Herbert Walker Bush, you never changed a sentencing recommendation for a friend of Herbert Walker Bush, did you?” Johnson asked.

Barr responded that “nothing was ever elevated” to him.

Stone was found guilty in November of lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to provide the Trump campaign inside information about WikiLeaks in 2016. Earlier this year prosecutors recommended he serve between seven and nine years in prison. 

The entire prosecutorial team on Stone’s case resigned after the Justice Department asked a federal court to reduce the initial sentencing recommendation.