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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 BarrBill BarrTrump administration pressured federal prosecutors to settle investigation into Turkish bank: report DOJ shifts, will allow local police to wear body cameras during operations with federal agents Police accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters 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 WarrenWarren has expressed interest in being Biden's Treasury secretary: report The Democrats' 50 state strategy never reached rural America What a Biden administration should look like 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 StoneTrump grants clemency to five nonviolent offenders Trump remarks put pressure on Barr DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump 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 MarkeyTech CEOs clash with lawmakers in contentious hearing OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump strips protections for Tongass forest, opening it to logging | Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say | Democrats see Green New Deal yielding gains despite GOP attacks Democrats see Green New Deal yielding gains despite GOP attacks MORE (Mass.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayWorking together to effectively address patient identification during COVID-19 Plaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (Wash.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyFCC reaffirms order rolling back net neutrality regulations Electric vehicles see state-level gains GOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (Md.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWhat were we thinking in 1996 when we approved Section 230? On The Money: Dow falls more than 900 points amid fears of new COVID-19 restrictions | Democrats press Trump Org. about president's Chinese bank account | Boeing plans thousands of additional job cuts Democrats press Trump Organization about president's Chinese bank account MORE (Ore.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort FCC reaffirms order rolling back net neutrality regulations MORE (Hawaii) and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTlaib, Ocasio-Cortez offer bill to create national public banking system Cutting defense spending by 10 percent would debilitate America's military The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy 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 TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll 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.