Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign

Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign

Senate Democrats unloaded on Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrAppeals court sides with Trump on federal execution policy Barr tells prosecutors to consider coronavirus risk when determining bail: report Decentralized leadership raises questions about Trump coronavirus response MORE on Friday, accusing him and other top Justice Department officials of trying to "undermine the administration of justice" and urging him to resign.

The letter, spearheaded by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.), comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sparked a political firestorm when it recommended a lesser sentence for Trump associate Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneJuan Williams: Mueller, one year on House Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak Trump 'strongly considering' full pardon for Flynn MORE, contradicting the federal prosecutors working on the case.

The senators said they were sending the letter to Barr to "express ... alarm and opposition to the unethical political intervention." 

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“This is an extraordinary turn of events. It appears to show that you and other top DOJ officials intervened in a clearly political fashion to undermine the administration of justice at the President’s behest in order to protect a well-connected political ally who committed a ‘direct and brazen attack on the rule of law,'" the senators wrote. 

They added that the reversal of the sentencing recommendation by DOJ leadership "is a clear violation of your duty to defend fair, impartial and equal justice for all Americans. As a result, we call on you to resign immediately." 

In addition to Warren, Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocratic senators question Google over decision to release coronavirus location data Why being connected really matters for students On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySenate Democrats propose ,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers Trump administration issues guidance scaling back paid leave requirement for small business employees Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday MORE (Wash.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus Pentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers call for probe into aircraft carrier captain's firing | Sailors cheer ousted commander | Hospital ship to ease screening process for patients MORE (Md.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Wisconsinites put lives on the line after SCOTUS decision Officials sound alarm over virus relief check scams MORE (Ore.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (Hawaii) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (Vt.) signed on to the letter to Barr. Both Warren and Sanders are running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

The Justice Department on Tuesday formally asked for "far less" than the original seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation for Stone made a day before by frontline federal prosecutors.

The U-turn, which came after President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE publicly criticized the initial sentence recommendation, led to four prosecutors withdrawing from the case.

Trump raised further questions about Barr's role in the decision when he praised the attorney general in a tweet for "taking charge" of the case. 

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Barr, during an interview with ABC News that aired Thursday, said that he had already made a decision to ask for a lesser sentence before Trump's tweet criticizing the seven- to-nine-year recommendation. 

"However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department ... make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity," he added. 

Barr also said during the interview that he was not going to be influenced by anyone, including the president, but Democrats called that statement "simply not credible." 

They added that the actions taken by the Justice Department on the Stone case "make a mockery of your responsibilities to seek equal justice under the law and reveal that you are unfit to head the DOJ." 

In addition to sending the letter to Barr, Warren, Van Hollen, Hirono and Markey unveiled legislation on Friday that would prohibit "high-level" Justice Department officials appointed by Trump from participating in issues relating to the president, his family or campaign associates. 

The legislation would block the Justice Department from using funding for an action that involved having a Senate-confirmed DOJ official or a U.S. attorney named by the attorney general take part in a matter that involved Trump, a family member or a current or former campaign official. 

“This bill would use Congress’ spending authority to protect the rule of law and prevent a corrupt Attorney General from protecting the President’s buddies when they commit crimes to benefit the President," Warren said in a statement.