Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month, according to the panel's Democratic members, as Democrats in both chambers of Congress demand answers after the Department of Justice stepped in calling for a lower recommended sentence for President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone.
What are the details?
Judiciary Committee Democrats led by Chairman Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) wrote a letter to Barr on Wednesday that began, "We are writing to confirm your agreement to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, 2020."
The Democrats wrote, "Since President Trump took office, we have repeatedly warned you and your predecessors that the misuse of our criminal justice system for political purposes is both dangerous to our democracy and unacceptable to the House Judiciary Committee."
The letter goes on to explain that the committee wants to question the attorney general over:
- "The ongoing developments following the removal of U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu, who oversaw the prosecutions of President Trump's deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates, President Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, and President Trump's longtime political adviser Roger Stone.
- The creation of a new 'process' by which President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani can feed the Department of Justice information, through you, about the President's political rivals.
- The decision to overrule your career prosecutors and significantly reduce the recommended sentence for Roger Stone, who has been convicted for lying under oath, at the apparent request of the President—a decision that led to all four prosecutors handling the case to withdraw from the proceedings in protest."
As of this writing, Attorney General Barr has not issued a public statement confirming that he has agreed to testify before the Democrat-led panel.
The House Judiciary Democrats sent their letter the day after the four prosecutors handling the Roger Stone case withdrew after the Department of Justice stepped in, saying their recommended seven- to nine-year sentence for Stone was too harsh. President Trump told reporters he did not instruct the DOJ to intervene in the case, but said the original proposed sentence — along with the prosecution of Stone — was "ridiculous."
Democrats in the GOP-led Senate also called Wednesday for an investigation in the upper chamber into the DOJ recommending an amended sentence for Stone, with some even calling for Attorney General Barr to resign over the matter.
NBC News reported that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor, "Something egregious like this demands that the inspector general investigate and demands that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing now," adding, "I therefore request that you immediately investigate this matter to determine how and why the Stone sentencing recommendations were countermanded, which Justice Department officials made this decision, and which White House officials were involved."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Wednesday, "Attorney General William Barr should be ashamed and embarrassed and resign as a result of this action directly interfering in the independent prosecution of Roger Stone, simply the latest examples of political interference by the president to alter the independent decisions of the Department of Justice."