Following up on this morning's news, this afternoon has been a Valentine's Day massacre on the rule of law in the US. First of all, Donald Trump straight up decreed that he has the right to interfere in any Justice Department case as he sees fit.
President Trump asserted Friday that he had the legal right to intervene in federal criminal cases, a day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly rebuked him for attacks on Justice Department prosecutors and others involved in the case of Roger J. Stone Jr., the president’s longtime friend.
In a morning tweet, Mr. Trump quoted Mr. Barr saying that the president “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” The president said he had “so far chosen” not to interfere in a criminal case even though he insisted that he is not legally bound to do so.
“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” he said.
The assertion by the president, rejecting a request by Mr. Barr to stop tweeting about the department’s cases, adds to the mounting controversy over the decision by senior Justice Department officials to overrule prosecutors who had recommended a seven to nine year sentence for Mr. Stone, who was convicted of seven felonies in a bid to obstruct a congressional investigation that threatened the president.
That recommendation infuriated Mr. Trump, who called the department’s handling of the case “a disgrace” and later praised Mr. Barr after his top officials intervened to recommend a lighter sentence for Mr. Stone. The four prosecutors who were overruled resigned from the case in protest; one quit the department entirely.
The Justice Department and Bill Barr immediately followed up with...interfering in federal cases involving Trump. Surprise!
Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize the criminal case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter.
The review is highly unusual and could trigger more accusations of political interference by top Justice Department officials into the work of career prosecutors.
Mr. Barr has also installed a handful of outside prosecutors to broadly review the handling of other politically sensitive national-security cases in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, the people said. The team includes at least one prosecutor from the office of the United States attorney in St. Louis, Jeff Jensen, who is handling the Flynn matter, as well as prosecutors from the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.
Over the past two weeks, the outside prosecutors have begun grilling line prosecutors in the Washington office about various cases — some public, some not — including investigative steps, prosecutorial actions and why they took them, according to the people. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive internal deliberations.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The intervention has contributed a turbulent period for the prosecutors’ office that oversees the seat of the federal government and some of the most politically sensitive investigations and cases — some involving President Trump’s friends and allies, and some his critics and adversaries.
Barr is clearly setting the stage not for a Trump pardon of Flynn, Stone, and Manafort, but outright overturning their convictions so that he doesn't have to. The question then is what the Durham investigation means for prosecuting Trump's enemies list.
But it starts with the Flynn plea deal.
US Attorney Jeffrey Jensen of St. Louis has been tasked with taking a second look at some aspects of the sensitive cases, one of the officials said. It was not clear which other cases were under review, and what form the reviews had taken.
Jensen is working together with Brandon Van Grack -- the former Mueller prosecutor who led the case against Flynn -- to review the case, according to a Justice Department official. It's possible that if the department continues to fight Flynn's attempts to withdraw his guilty plea, Van Grack could be a witness on the circumstances of his plea deal, according to several people familiar with the case.
Putting Justice Department prosecutors on the stand to justify their plea deals in a case involving a witness against the person in the White House. Sure seems like Barr is opening the door for a massive purge.
Things are moving at a pretty rapid pace now, as expected after Trump was unshackled by his Senate GOP enablers.
It will not end well for our republic.