Empower Wisconsin | Aug. 4, 2020
By Margot Cleveland, The Federalist
When Attorney General William Barr testified before the House Judiciary Committee last Tuesday, Democrats’ rhetorical questions reinforced eight falsehoods previously peddled by left-wing media. Notwithstanding these attempts to prevent Barr from setting the record straight, the attorney general dismantled much of the fake news that has made headlines over the last two months.
Here are the highlights of the media myths congressional Democrats paraded for the public during the hearing.
Myth 1: Barr overruled prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone because of a Donald Trump tweet.
Several of Democrats’ attacks focused on President Trump associate Roger Stone. Democrat committee Chairman Jerry Nadler accused Barr of personally interfering “with ongoing criminal investigations to protect the president and his allies from the consequences of their actions,” and then “when career investigators and prosecutors resisted these brazen unprecedented actions, you replaced them with less qualified staff who appear to be singularly beholden to you.” Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, drilled more specifically into the Stone case, misrepresenting the facts in the process.
“Isn’t it true that when prosecutors in the Roger Stone case filed a memo with the court recommending a sentence of seven to nine years in prison, a few hours later, President Trump tweeted that the sentence recommendation was quote, ‘a disgrace,’” Johnson began.
Barr acknowledged that reality. Johnson then asked Barr whether, “several hours after that, you filed a pleading with the court stating that the sentence recommendation would be changed and that you would be asking for a lighter sentence for Roger Stone?”
Barr attempted to explain that Johnson was mispresenting the circumstances, but the Democrat cut Barr short to grandstand. “You’re 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?” Johnson asked rhetorically.
However, when Republicans allowed him to explain the circumstances of the about-face, the attorney general exposed the ridiculous nature of the charge that he was cutting breaks for Stone. “Stone was prosecuted under me, and I said all along, I thought that was a righteous prosecution,” the attorney general explained. But “line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice anyone else in a similar position had ever served, and this is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence,” Barr continued. “I wasn’t going to advocate that because that is not the rule of law.”
The attorney general also testified that he “never discussed our sentencing recommendation with anyone outside the Department of Justice.” Barr then laid out the timeline: On Monday, Barr explained, he had concluded that the Department of Justice (DOJ) “should not affirmatively advocate for seven to nine years,” but would leave the decision to the sentencing judge. However, that night, the prosecutors filed a sentencing memorandum that did not reflect Barr’s decision.
“That night I told people we had to fix it first thing in the morning. We did as soon as I got in,” Barr said. Only then did Barr learn about the president’s tweet. Barr explained that he then “hesitated because I knew that I would be attacked for doing it. People would argue that I did it because of the tweet, but I felt at the end of the day, I really had to go forward with our filing because it was the right thing to do.”
Barr did do the right thing: In sentencing Stone, the presiding judge stated she was concerned seven to nine years would be greater than necessary,” and that she “agree[d] with the defense and with the government’s second memorandum.”
Myth 2: Barr dropped the case against Flynn because he was Trump’s friend.
Democrats likewise pushed the narrative that Barr filed a motion to dismiss the criminal charge against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn because of Flynn’s connection to the president. Barr countered this charge both generally and specifically.
“I agree the president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people, and sometimes that’s a difficult decision to make, especially when you’re going to be castigated for it,” Barr told the Judiciary Committee. “But that is what the rule of law is, and that’s what fairness to the individual ultimately comes to, being willing to do what’s fair to the individual.”
Barr then stressed what Democrats ignore—that it was an independent U.S. attorney in St. Louis “who had 10 years in the FBI and 10 years in the Department of Justice as a career prosecutor, who “determined, based on documents that had not been provided to Flynn’s side and not been provided to the court that in fact there was no basis to investigate Flynn.”
Rather, Missouri-based U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen concluded “that the only purpose was to try to catch him in saying something that they could then say was a lie.” “Furthermore, it was clearly established by the documents that the FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe that he thought he was lying,” Barr added.
Knowing what we know now, Barr concluded, “We don’t think any of the U.S. attorneys in the department would have prosecuted this case.” And what “I’m trying to establish is that we will use the same standards for everybody before we indict anybody. This goes for both sides,” Barr stressed. He later added that “the true two standards of justice were really during the tail end of the Obama administration.”
Read more at The Federalist.