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 BarrDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Barr threatens tech's prized legal shield If Roger Stone were a narco, he'd be in the clear 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 Ann WarrenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll 2020 Democratic candidates support Las Vegas casino workers on debate day Sanders takes lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll 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 StoneIf Roger Stone were a narco, he'd be in the clear Free Roger Stone The Hill's Morning Report - In Nevada, bets on Sanders, eyes on Bloomberg 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 MarkeyKennedy, Markey spar over experience in first Senate primary debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate Massachusetts Democrats question deployment of Border Patrol teams to sanctuary cities MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule How to downsize the federal education role — without attracting attention Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (Wash.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Hillicon Valley: Facebook suspends misinformation networks targeting US | Lawmakers grill census officials on cybersecurity | Trump signs order to protect GPS | Dem senators propose federal facial recognition moratorium MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign Senate Democrats introduce legislation to change impeachment trial rules Warren asks for probe of whether Trump violated law by delaying Puerto Rico funds MORE (Md.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats demand Trump administration withdraw religious provider rule Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign MORE (Ore.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Senate Dems blast Barr for 'clear violation' of duty in Stone case, urge him to resign What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber MORE (Hawaii) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say 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 TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants 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.