It’s been one week since Donald Trump was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial, and he is wasting no time in demonstrating just how authoritarian his Republican enablers have encouraged him to be.
This week, Trump’s Republican operative Roger Stone was sentenced to seven to nine years in prison after being convicted in November of seven counts that include witness tampering and lying to Congress.
But unlike his predecessors, who respected the rule of law (even Nixon did most of the time), Donald Trump is using his office to bend the Justice Department (DOJ) to his own personal whims.
No sooner was Stone sentenced then Trump tweeted:
“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!”
The tweet is actually not the most serious part.
The serious part is when the Attorney General of the United States, William Barr, makes the unprecedented move of taking Trump’s “miscarriage of justice” criticism as a cue to overrule career prosecutors to secure Stone a lighter sentence.
Those prosecutors resigned in protest.
“I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe but I didn’t speak to [the Justice Department]. I thought the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous. And I look at others that haven’t been prosecuted… but when you see that I thought it was an insult to our country.”
He then tweeted:
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
Greg Sargent of the Washington Post tweeted in response:
“Trump has now publicly admitted that his attorney general intervened in the case of his own longtime adviser — who obstructed an investigation into an attack on our political system–for the express purpose of undermining DOJ’s own investigative conclusions about himself.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Donald Trump is shredding the rule of law in this country. His AG overruled career prosecutors to reduce the sentence for his buddy Roger Stone after Stone committed crimes to protect him. Every Republican who voted to acquit Trump for his corrupt actions enabled and owns this. Donald Trump can continue his corrupt rampages and vendettas because elected Republicans do nothing. They lack the courage and backbone shown by four career prosecutors who stepped down rather than facilitate the Attorney General’s corrupt scheme. But we are not powerless.”
Government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) concurs with Warren’s demand Barr step down.
“The decision to overrule your career prosecutors and significantly reduce the recommended sentence for Roger Stone, who has been convicted for lying under oath, at the apparent request of the president – a decision that led to all four prosecutors handling the case to withdraw from the proceedings in protest.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman, and lead impeachment manager, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said:
“I do not take a position on the proper prison term for Mr Stone, but it would be a blatant abuse of power if President Trump has in fact intervened to reverse the recommendations of career prosecutors at the Department of Justice. Doing so would send an unmistakable message that President Trump will protect those who lie to Congress to cover up his own misconduct, and that the attorney general will join him in that effort. Coupled with the president’s blatant retaliation against those who helped expose his wrongdoing, the Trump administration poses the gravest threat to the rule of law in America in a generation.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the Senate floor to pronounce:
“We are witnessing a crisis in the rule of law in America–unlike one we have ever seen before. It is a crisis of President Trump’s making. But it was enabled and emboldened by every Senate Republican who was too afraid to stand up to him and say the simple word ‘no’, when the vast majority of them knew that that was the right thing to do.”
Barack Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, concurred:
“Do not underestimate the danger of this situation. This affects the rule of law and respect for it. Unprecedented.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted:
“The growing Justice Department interference scandal comes days after Senate Republicans ended his show impeachment trial. When Trump hears he is above the law the abuses of power immediately get worse.”
“Just to recap: 2/5: Trump is ‘acquitted’
2/6: Trump uses National Prayer Breakfast to promise vengeance
2/7: Trump starts firing witnesses
2/11: Career officials resign in protest as Trump administration intervenes in sentencing to protect Stone.
It’s been less than a week.”
If Trump gets another term, this is going to be the norm.
We will be in full-on autocracy.
It’s already knocking at a door creaked slightly open.
Every day it blows open just a little wider.
Image credit: fabiusmaximus.com