It is a sign of our times that Attorney General William Barr tried to do something right and some illiberal liberals, including not a few in the media, decided that it was wrong on the basis of mindless presidential squawks, factual ignorance and in some cases political opportunity.
What it adds up to is that the illiberal liberals are doing what they accuse Barr of doing, namely going to war with justice and other basic democratic principles, but at least Judge Amy Berman Jackson saw the light.
What she did was sentence Roger Stone to three years and four months in prison instead of the seven to nine years initially recommended by four prosecutors whose numbers included two Mueller probe attorneys. There are experts saying they were way out of line, but let’s get there by first observing that Stone is an author, a long-term political player majoring in wily tricks and a friend of President Donald Trump’s — enough right there to get him in trouble
Back during the 2016 campaign, he tried to communicate with Wikileaks, which was passing around emails revealing behind-doors discussions in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He tried to get a radio host to back up misinformation and he didn’t. Stone then told him he should prepare to die and that he would kill his dog if he didn’t shut up.
There was a trial, Stone was found guilty and it was then that the prosecutors recommended putting him in prison for seven to nine years. However, these guys do not act independently, but have to report to a Department of Justice supervisor who reviewed the sentencing recommendation they wanted to hand the judge and who first off is reported to have said this doesn’t work.
Experts explain that there are sentencing guidelines and varied factors that can be taken into consideration. For instance, we are informed, the radio host, also a leftist comedian, knew Stone well enough not take the threat about his dog or dying seriously, and that would seem to mean there was no violence in the tampering. It has also been observed that Stone was a first offender, that he was 67 years old and in bad health and that the Mueller probe never found any kind of illegal collusion with the Russians.
The Justice Department supervisor reportedly said the sentencing should be something between three and four years, and the prosecutors snarled and threatened to resign, which means that either way they would get their way — get the sentence recommendation they wanted or make the department look like a political coddler.
The supervisor is said to have backed down, but Barr and others looked at the issue. Trump jumped in, broadcasting how awful the sentence recommendation was, and the world came tumbling down. Barr, who also wanted a milder sentence, asked Trump to please shut up and then, when he didn’t, threatened to resign, but we still had partisan punchers in Congress saying Barr should resign.
On top of that, there were 1,100 former Justice Department employees asking for his resignation through a non-profit group that one journalist disclosed had been founded by progressives who also cheered the Mueller probe. Then there were the judges who also objected to the new recommendation even though it was still just a recommendation. The court did not have to heed it.
Even though Trump is an outrage who just keeps on giving to his political enemies, it is a fact that federal prosecutors are answerable to the Department of Justice. As Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal has argued, the idea that all federal officials out there should be unanswerable to anyone is a description of the administrative state that more and more runs our affairs.
Some things to keep in mind. The whole trial may be thrown out because of apparent anti-Stone bias by a juror. The Justice Department has outright skipped prosecuting some highly suspect liberal folks. And the left hates Barr, maybe the best thing that has happened to the Trump administration, because he secured a superb prosecutor now investigating possible criminal activity by officials involved in phony FISA warrants and the Mueller probe.
Reach Jay Ambrose at email@example.com.