Several top congressional Republicans defended Attorney General William Barr after hundreds of former Department of Justice officials called for his ouster in the wake of a decision to reduce the sentencing of Roger Stone.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) wrote in a statement that the call from about 2,000 former Justice Department officials for his resignation is not warranted.
“Suggestions from outside groups that the Attorney General has fallen short of the responsibilities of his office are unfounded. The Attorney General has shown that he is committed without qualification to securing equal justice under law for all Americans,” the three lawmakers wrote. “The Attorney General has shown that he is committed without qualification to securing equal justice under law for all Americans. … The nation is fortunate that President Trump chose such a strong and selfless public servant to lead the Department of Justice.”
Democrats and other groups criticized Barr last week after the Justice Department revised a sentencing recommendation for Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, following a Twitter post from the president that the initial sentencing recommendation was “horrible” and “unfair.” Four prosecutors in the case then resigned from the case.
Over the past week, the group Protect Democracy organized an effort to gather more than 2,000 former DOJ staffers to call on Barr to resign. The group argued that Barr is using the department to politically help Trump.
During an interview with ABC News last week, Barr said Trump’s social media posts made it difficult for him to do his job, but he stressed the president did not influence his decision to intervene in Stone’s sentencing. “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” he said.
“I will make those decisions based on what I think is the right thing to do, and I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody,” Barr told the network. “And I said, whether it’s Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president, I’m going to do what I think is right.”
And McConnell, during a Fox News interview during the following morning, said Trump “ought to listen to” Barr’s advice about social media posts.
Despite his comments, a number of high-ranking Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) have called for investigations or even public hearings into the DOJ decision.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Trump admitted to reporters that “I do make his job harder, yes, I do agree with that.” Over the past several days, the president maintained his online criticism of the Stone case, re-posting a comment about Judge Amy Berman on Tuesday.