Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Wednesday that he will not call Attorney General William Barr to testify on the Justice Department’s decision to lower its sentencing recommendation for Trump associate Roger Stone.
“He’ll come in as part of oversight, but we’re not going to call him based on this,” Graham told reporters when asked about Democrats demanding that Barr appear before the panel over the recommendation.
Barr is in the middle of a political firestorm sparked by the Justice Department’s decision to lessen its recommended sentencing for Stone.
President Trump praised Barr for “taking charge” of the case against Stone, raising new questions about the level of the attorney general’s direct involvement.
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Democrats, including leadership and members of the panel, have asked for Graham to convene an investigation into the Justice Department’s decision to lower its recommended sentence. That investigation, according to lawmakers, would include public hearings and Barr testifying before the panel.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for the Judiciary Committee to convene an “emergency hearing” over the matter.
“I call on Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham to convene an emergency hearing … to conduct oversight and hold hearings,” he said. “That’s the job of the Judiciary Committee, no matter who’s president.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Schumer’s No. 2 and a member of the panel, tweeted that Barr “must testify under oath” before the committee.
“Barr was confirmed as AG one year ago this week and must appear before Congress for an oversight hearing to answer questions about his repeated intervention in Justice Department investigations, apparently to benefit the President,” he added.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) also sent a letter to Graham on Tuesday night demanding that he call Barr to testify.
The Justice Department on Tuesday asked a federal court to sentence Stone to “far less” than seven to nine years in prison — the time frame federal prosecutors had recommended on Monday.
“While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here, the government respectfully submits that the range of 87 to 108 months presented as the applicable advisory Guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case,” the department said.
Following the request to the federal court, the entire prosecutorial team on the Stone case resigned, seemingly in rebuke of Justice Department’s decision. All four of the prosecutors have thus far declined to comment on the subject.