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Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch badgered Attorney General Bill Barr on Tuesday over the Justice Department’s recommendation to have Roger Stone’s sentence reduced due to his age ahead of an eventual commutation of the sentence by President Donald Trump.
Deutch began by asking Barr when the issue of Stone was “raised” with him, to which the AG responded that a U.S. attorney who had been newly appointed by Barr, Timothy Shea, had done so in February.
The Florida Democrat asked if Barr and Shea discussed the case ahead of the latter’s appointment, but the AG said he had not done so. He did say Shea — who worked for Barr during his first stint as AG three decades ago and had been assisting Barr in developing DoJ policy — may have had conversations about Stone with other ranking Justice Department officials.
“Had you discussed the Stone case with [Shea] before you named him acting attorney?” Deutch asked.
“No,” Barr said.
Deutch then made a number of statements in which he appeared to try to confuse a timeline over when Shea was appointed and when he held discussions with the AG about Stone, prompting a curt response.
“I think I speak English. I said that before he came in to see me, I believe he had some conversations with senior staff,” Barr said.
The attorney general then said that he recalled a Monday morning meeting in which Shea expressed confidence that the Justice Department would be able to secure a sentence for Stone that was far less than the years’ worth of time federal prosecutors initially working the case had recommended.
Deutch then recited a portion of Justice Department policy stating that line prosecutors are expected to make recommendations for sentencing — in Stone’s case, the recommendation was seven-to-nine years.
“And then you overruled the line prosecutors, you asked for a lower sentence, and you gave some reasons,” Deutch said, noting that “you talked about health.”
“‘Health is to be considered only for extraordinary physical impairment,’” the Florida lawmaker said, reciting further DoJ policy. “Did that apply to Roger Stone?”
Barr responded that he could not “reveal all the information” that went into his recommendation for a lower sentence, prompting Deutch to interrupt.
“I’m not asking what his health was, but did that apply?” Deutch asked.
“No,” Barr said initially before adding, “I’m sorry…I’m sorry, did what apply?”
“His health,” Deutch shot back. “Is health a reason…is that the reason for Roger Stone” getting a reduced sentence recommendation.
“I stated why…” Barr attempted to explain before the Florida Democrat interrupted again by reciting more DoJ policy regarding the consideration of age in sentencing recommendations.
“He was 67,” Deutch said, appearing to suggest that because of his age Stone did not merit special health considerations.
“The judge agreed with me, congressman,” Barr shot back. “The judge agreed with me.”
“I’m not asking you that,” said Deutch.
“I know you’re not asking, I’m saying,” Barr responded.
“The issue here is whether Roger Stone was treated differently because he was friends with the president,” the Democrat said. “When you asked to reduce the sentence, you said enhancements were ‘technically applicable.’ Mr. Attorney General, can you think of any other cases where the defendant threatened to kill a witness, threatened a judge, lied to a judge…where the Justice Department claimed that those were mere technicalities, can you think of even one?”
“The judge agreed with our analysis,” Barr responded calmly, as Deutch raised his voice.
“I’m not asking about the judge, I’m asking about what you did to reduce the sentence the sentence of Roger Stone,” Deutch said, ticking off the list of charges against Stone again.
“The witness stated he didn’t feel threatened,” Barr said, prompting further interruptions from Deutch.
“Can I answer the question?” Barr interjected.
Barr was repeatedly interrupted and not given chances to respond to numerous and wild claims made by Democrats throughout the hearing. One Georgia Dem accused Barr of not wanting to answer questions, while repeatedly interrupting and talking over him.
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