Last night, I wrote in response to the news that all four of Roger Stone’s prosecutors had resigned after the Justice Department had submitted a memo opposing their recommendation to the judge in the case regarding Stone’s sentence…
I can’t figure this out until…
- I know whether Stone was targeted as a Trump ally, and how much of this, if any, was politically motivated.
- What the sentencing guidelines are, and exactly what Stone did.
- What the reasoning of the Justice Department was in opposing its own prosecutors’ judgment.
- To what degree the President influenced the decision.
Finally, thanks to the always reliable and astute Andrew McCarthy, I do understand, and can confidently say, “What a mess!”
I do not trust myself to summarize McCarthy’s careful and clear unraveling of this episode, so you should read the whole article. I’ll simply leave you with his conclusion:
I would not suggest that… the DOJ distinguished themselves in the Stone sentencing debacle. But at this point, the main fault lies with the president.Yes, the Mueller probe was specious. But for his connection to Trump, Stone would never have been pursued in a collusion fever dream that Mueller’s prosecutors knew was bogus when they charged him. Yet his crimes, while exaggerated, were real. He was convicted by a jury and, under federal law, that presumptively warrants incarceration, though he could be spared by the judge (whom the president has picked a strange time to antagonize). If the president thinks that Stone and Flynn (among others) have been given a raw deal, the Constitution empowers him to pardon them, or at least commute their sentences.
If President Trump is afraid, in an election year, to take the political hit that a pardon for Stone would entail, that is understandable. But then he should bite his tongue and click out of Twitter. The Justice Department’s job is to process cases, including Mueller cases, pursuant to law. If the president wants to make those cases disappear, he has to do it himself and be accountable. His provocative running commentary only ensures that the DOJ will be accused of kowtowing to him. It also guarantees that, if the ongoing criminal probe of the Russiagate investigation eventually yields any indictments, they will be assailed as political persecutions rather than good-faith law enforcement.
But again, read it all.