The Justice Department inspector general opened an investigation into Attorney General William Barr’s unusual intervention in the criminal case against Roger Stone, President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser, reports Politico. Barr moved in February to seek a lighter sentence for Stone after rank-and-file prosecutors and an acting U.S. Attorney hand-picked by Barr submitted a recommendation of seven to nine years in prison for the conservative provocateur. Barr’s decision to overrule the line prosecutors who persuaded a jury to convict Stone on seven felony counts drew condemnation from Democrats and many members of the legal community, who accused the attorney general of doing a political favor for a longtime ally of the president.
Barr insisted that he stepped in only to make sure the prosecution’s recommendation in the case was a reasonable one. He said that the seven-to-nine-year proposal was obviously excessive in view of the judge’s ultimate decision to sentence Stone to three years and four months, half what prosecutors recommended. The attorney general acknowledged that the recommendation was changed after Trump tweeted his condemnation of the original proposal. Barr said he told colleagues to revise the court submission before Trump weighed in. Stone had served a few days in home confinement and was set to head to prison in July when Trump commuted the remainder of his sentence. Barr’s rare intervention led all four prosecutors assigned to Stone’s case to withdraw in protest.