Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Body Count -- Career Prosecutors in the US Department of Justice

A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Off Luxury Liner Trump

All four career prosecutors handling the case against Roger Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings yesterday — and one, Jonathan Kravis, quit his job entirely — after the Justice Department under Attorney General and Trump-enabler William Barr signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime friend and confidant. 

The career prosecutors handling the case recommended that a judge sentence Stone — convicted in November of obstructing Congress and witness tampering — to between seven and nine years in federal prison. First, Trump attacked the prosecutors on Twitter. Then Barr's department, in an unprecedented interference with justice, also intervened.

One by one, the career prosecutors, two of whom had worked on Mueller’s investigation, filed notices in court of their intention to leave the case. Though none of the prosecutors gave a reason, their asking to do so was highly unusual and suggested they could not ethically affix their names to the government’s revised position. 

Former Justice Department officials and others characterized the department’s abrupt shift on the Stone case as an egregious example of the president and his attorney general manipulating federal law enforcement to serve their political interests. David Laufman, a former Justice Department official, called it a “shocking, cram-down political intervention” in the criminal justice process. “We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept.,” he wrote on Twitter.

Eric H. Holder Jr., attorney general under President Barack Obama, said it was “unprecedented, wrong and ultimately dangerous.” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) said the move amounted to “obstruction of justice.”

“We are seeing a full-frontal assault on the rule of law in America,” Pascrell said. “Direct political interference in our justice system is a hallmark of a banana republic. Despite whatever Trump, William Barr, and their helpers think, the United States is a nation of laws and not an authoritarian’s paradise.”

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