Former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Thursday, Feb. 13, suggested that the now-withdrawn Department of Justice prosecutors who had originally handled Roger Stone’s case had purposefully laid a trap for Attorney General Bill Barr.
“It is very clear from [Barr’s] interview they had told him that they were going to do quite the opposite, then did exactly what he had said, ‘No, let’s go another direction’ or a decision had been made, and they went another direction anyway,” he explained in an interview on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” reported the Bizpacreview.
“This seems to be a little bit of a setup to cause this exact kerfuffle. Very much choreographed,” he added.
In an ABC News interview published earlier that day, Barr said that he had already discussed with staff about the “excessive” sentencing recommendation for Stone—who was convicted of charges that include intimidating a witness and making false statements to Congress—and he was surprised to learn his prosecutors moved forward with it.
“I was very surprised,” Barr told ABC News. “Once I confirmed that that’s actually what we filed, I said that night to my staff that we had to get ready because we had to do something in the morning to amend that, and clarify what our position was.”
However, President Trump’s tweet came before Barr’s team could actually take action.
This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
Because of the timing of the tweet, Barr is under fire as congressional Democrats sharpened their already simmering criticisms of him, calling for an investigation and even impeachment.
“This is an abuse of power,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed during her weekly press conference Thursday. “The president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interests.”
Barr agreed to answer questions on a variety of matters in a March 31 appearance before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee.
Some on the left have called for Barr’s resignation, including 2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) told CNN Wednesday that he wouldn’t rule out launching a new impeachment inquiry into President Trump himself over the Stone’s sentencing.
Additionally, Whitaker said that he was concerned by the controversy surrounding the jury forewoman in Stone’s federal trial, who has been criticized over multiple anti-Trump tweets and anti-Stone sentiments.
“Once a juror is corrupt or has a bias, the whole system falls apart,” Whitaker said. “Really, I think we should be concerned about jurors—especially here, unfortunately, in the District of Columbia [where Stone’s trial was heard] where they kind of game the system and have biases that they aren’t willing to admit.”
Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the “Justice” Department. @foxandfriends @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2020
Separately, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton, earlier in the day during an interview on Fox Business Network’s “Lou Doubbs Tonight,” made the same statement as Whitaker’s and noted that the four prosecutors who resigned their posts in an apparent protest are former members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation.
“I would think the attorney general’s job is made more difficult by these Mueller holdovers that he allowed to be in place and outflank him on the Roger Stone sentencing recommendation,” Fitton said.
“Bill Barr has fallen into a trap laid for him by these Mueller prosecutors. And now they’ve created another scandal for the next phase of the coup against him and Donald Trump,” he added.