Roger, Over and Out
Amid all the controversy of Trump's involvement with the Justice Department trying to lesson the sentence for Roger Stone who was convicted on seven felony counts, Attorney General William Barr gave an interview with ABC News trying to explain that this was all normal.
A few things, but one very important point to keep in mind.
First, if all this was just normal process and Standard Operating Procedure, I wish the reporter had asked him (or any subsequent reporter asks him) to please name the last time he -- or anyone in the Justice Department -- overruled federal prosecutors to lower a sentencing recommendation.
Second, as former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman pointed out last night, by the Justice Department returning to court with their lessened sentencing recommendation, the federal prosecutors have laid the foundation as precedent for all defense attorneys to use this argument for lowering sentences of their clients, not just because it is now stated Justice Department policy, but specifically as ordered by the United States Attorney General. The unintended consequence of this aside, it would seem to be an appropriate issue for Trump's opponent to raise as to why his administration is soft on crime.
But there is also a very Important fact to keep in mind about this whole issue surrounding Roger Stone --
I think it's generally assume that Roger Stone will be pardoned by Trump. What's important to remember is that this is the equivalent of pleading guilty.-- but even more to the point, someone who has accepted a pardon is required by law to answer truthfully ANY and all questions asked him under oath. Any question, since he cannot plead the 5th Amendment because there is no jeopardy attached. Or he can go to jail for obstruction of justice.
If (or when) Stone is pardoned, that could actually turn out to be terrible for Trump. The House is continuing its investigations of Trump and oversight of the administration. It seems highly reasonable to think that Stone will be subpoenaed. It's possible that Trump could pardon him on his last day in office. But assuming Democrats retain control of the House, investigations won't stop. Certainly Roger Stone could decide to obfuscate or not answer, and no new evidence will come to light -- that's his choice, and if he does so, he might well go back to prison.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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