Congressman: AG Barr, Your Opening Statement Sounded Like It Was Written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) laid out a case against Attorney General William Barr to show that he has been carrying out President Trump’s wishes instead of overseeing the fair administration of justice, and that he had used his power to enable President Trump to entice his friends – particularly Michael Flynn and Roger Stone – to cover up for him, and in so doing corrupted the process of justice.
Rep. Johnson: General Barr, your opening statement reads like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone. You stand by that statement?
Mr. Barr: Yes.
Rep. Johnson: General Barr, now I’m sure we can agree on something. The fact that President Trump is a prolific tweeter. Isn’t that correct?
Mr. Barr: He seems to be.
Rep. Johnson: He tweeted many times about the Roger Stone sentencing, didn’t he?
Mr. Barr: I don’t know how many times.
Rep. Johnson: You are aware of them because you said it hurts you from doing your job. Isn’t it true that when prosecutors in the Roger Stone case filed a memo with the court recommending a sentence of 7-9 years in prison, a few hours later President Trump tweeted that the sentence recommendation was a “disgrace?”
Mr. Barr: Yes.
Rep. Johnson: Several hours after that, you filed with the court stating that the sentencing recommendation would be changed, and you would be asking for a lighter sentence for Roger Stone. Is that correct?
Mr. Barr: No, what is correct is that on February 10, Monday, I gave instructions. I am answering your question.
Rep. Johnson: I am reclaiming my time. You filed a sentencing recommendation hours after President Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with the Stone recommendation. You changed it.
Mr. Barr: I am telling my story. That is why I am here.
Rep. Johnson: You are here to answer my questions. I am reclaiming my time. And I know you don’t want to answer. The facts are clear — sentencing recommendation made in the morning, tweet in the afternoon, you change the sentencing recommendations that night.
Mr. Barr: The tweet was made at 2 in the morning.
Rep. Johnson: It was made before and after. He tweeted about it relentlessly. And you’ve agreed to that. When you filed your sentencing recommendation asking for a lower sentence, you said you would recommend a lower sentence. Wasn’t the sentence that was recommended by the prosecutors (7-9 years) according to the sentencing guidelines calculations?
Mr. Barr: It was within the guidelines. But it was not within Justice Department policy in my view.
Rep. Johnson: Mr. Barr, you are expecting the American people to believe that you did not do what Trump wanted you to do when you changed that sentencing recommendation and lowered it for Roger Stone? You think the American people don’t understand that you are carrying out Trump’s orders?
Mr. Barr: I had not discussed my sentencing recommendation with anyone at the White House.
Rep. Johnson: General Barr, you did what the president wanted you to do. And that’s what you did.
Mr. Barr: Do you think it is fair for a 67-year-old man to be sent to prison for 7-9 years?
Rep. Johnson: You just said that it was an according to the sentencing guidelines. And your prosecutors will testify to the same. I will move on from that. You never changed a sentence recommendation for a friend of President George Herbert Walker Bush did you? (during your two years as his AG).
Mr. Barr: No, as I recall.
Rep. Johnson: Alright, that’s all I’m asking — no.
Mr. Barr: Nothing was ever elevated to me.
Rep. Johnson: Over the course of your time as AG under Trump you have now changed two sentencing recommendations – not one but two — you have intervened twice to reverse a local prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation for friends of President Trump, correct?
Mr. Barr: Which where they?
Rep. Johnson: Yeah, Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.
Mr. Barr: I didn’t change it.
Rep. Johnson: You indicated — you changed it because the original Flynn sentencing recommendation was for Flynn to serve 0-6 months, but under your authority the Justice Department supplemented that recommendation with a pleading that stated the DOJ’s agreement with Flynn’s lawyers that probation would be a reasonable sentence and that the DOJ would not be seeking prison time for Michael Flynn. Isn’t that correct?
Mr. Barr: I don’t think that’s what it said.
Rep. Johnson: That’s what it said sir, go back and read it. Reclaiming my time.