Barr Defends DOJ After Criticism Over Roger Stone, Michael Flynn Cases, Resignation of SDNY Attorney
Attorney General Bill Barr sat down with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas for a wide-ranging discussion that touched on everything from Black Lives Matter to Confederate statues to calls to defund the police.
The interview also touched on the scrutiny the the DOJ has faced over two high-profile cases and the now-former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
A top prosecutor in the Roger Stone case recently testified about the DOJ intervening over the sentence Stone initially received. Aaron Zelinsky, who worked in Robert Mueller’s office, said, “What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President.”
The DOJ has also been criticized over dropping charges against Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and over the recent very public back-and-forth that led to the resignation of SDNY U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman (who initially reacted to the announcement from Barr saying he “learned in a press release” he was stepping down).
With respect to Stone, Barr reiterated to Thomas that he believes it was a “righteous” prosecutino and the ultimate sentence he received was a fair one.
Thomas asked about a potential presidential pardon of Stone. Barr said it’s Trump’s prerogative if he wants to do so, adding, “I felt it was an appropriate prosecution.”
He had this to say, per an ABC News report, when questioned on the Flynn matter:
“[The U.S. attorney] came back and said that he didn’t think anyone in the department would prosecute that case or charge that case,” Barr said.
“And in fact, the documents that have recently been released indicate that the FBI felt that he had not lied. And this was not, as later spun, that he didn’t show signs of lying,” Barr continued. “They said they didn’t think he lied. That he believed what he was saying was true. And there are a number of other facts there that made us feel that that was not a case that met our standards of prosecution.”
The report adds that Barr “declined to speculate” when pressed on why Flynn pleaded guilty.
As for Berman, Barr also said the suggestion of the DOJ “trying to influence a case” is “ludicrous” and that “I felt it was just simply not a plausible basis for not making a change there.”
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