Trey Gowdy defended Attorney General Bill Barr from the bloodthirsty lynch mob calling for his resignation — or even his impeachment — over the Roger Stone case.
“The notion that Barr should resign is about the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever heard,” Gowdy, a Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman, told Fox’s Martha McCallum on Wednesday.
Trey Gowdy defends Barr
The attorney general is facing renewed attacks from Democrats after the Justice Department recommended a lighter punishment for Stone, who prosecutors recommended face seven to nine years in prison for minor obstruction crimes stemming from the Robert Mueller investigation. All four prosecutors dramatically quit the case after the DOJ stepped in.
Democrats have claimed that President Donald Trump, emboldened by his acquittal of impeachment charges last week, is abusing his power to tip the scales of justice with Barr’s help. Reviving old accusations that date from Barr’s first involvement in the Mueller saga last year, Democrats slammed Barr as Trump’s “henchman” and have demanded that he resign, or possibly face impeachment.
In the meantime, Democrats are calling for an investigation into Barr and he has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31. Gowdy backed Barr, noting that there are sex offenders and bank robbers who get more lenient sentences than Stone was recommended:
If a United States Senator really believes that the head of the Department of Justice cannot weigh in on what a proportional sentence is … there are child pornographers, people who rob banks who do not get nine years. Let the judge decide, I think two or three years is about right.
Barr “surprised” by harsh sentence
Stone was convicted in November for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness in relation to conversations he had about anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. He has not been accused of any criminal conspiracy with WikiLeaks, or the Russians for that matter.
Trump thanked Barr for “taking charge” of the case on Wednesday after the DOJ’s move, but both have denied that any improper intervention took place, and the DOJ has said that the Department planned to seek a lighter sentence before Trump began tweeting furiously about the case Tuesday night. All the same, Trump has maintained that he has the legal right to weigh in, although it appears Barr would rather that he not exercise it.
In an interview with ABC Thursday, Barr complained that Trump’s constant tweeting about the Stone case was making it “impossible” for him to do his job. But he maintained that the recommended sentencing took him and his team by surprise, indicating that Barr agreed independently with Trump’s assessment that it wasn’t fair.
“I was very surprised,” Barr said. “And once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night, to my staff, that we had to get ready cause we had to do something in the morning to amend that and clarify what our position was.”
Will Trump end witch hunt?
All week long, Trump raged against the prosecutors in the case and Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a tweet storm assailing “rogue prosecutors” and the “Mueller scam” that he says entrapped Stone. Trump and his allies have said that there is a double standard in the “Swamp,” in which politically connected Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Andrew McCabe elude punishment, while Trump and his associates are persecuted over non-existent or trivial offenses. McCabe will face no prosecution for lying — the same offense as Roger Stone.
Gowdy said that Trump should not weigh in on investigations, but he defended the president’s right to end the Stone affair at the push of a button: “The president has the power to commute Roger Stone’s sentence. He has the power to pardon him, he can pardon him right now if he wants to.”
Trump seems to be ignoring Barr’s complaints, tweeting Friday that he has the “legal right” to intervene in a criminal case, but he has “so far chosen not to!” Trump does, of course, have that right, as well as the right to pardon Stone and end the madness now. Why doesn’t he use it?