After the Department of Justice overruled a sentencing recommendation made by career prosecutors in the case of President Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted on Thursday that the reversal represented another “abuse of power” that must be investigated by Congress.
“This is an abuse of power that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “And the president is what he is. He thinks he's above the law, he has no respect for the law, but where are the Republicans to speak out on this blatant violation of the rule of law?”
After Trump tweeted a complaint about a "miscarriage of justice," the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memorandum in its case against Stone on Tuesday, noting that the previous recommendation by prosecutors of seven to nine years for Stone “would not be appropriate” and instead said it “defers to the court" while suggesting more lenient treatment.
In response, Pelosi said Attorney General William Barr has “deeply damaged” the Department of Justice, though she commended four prosecutors who withdrew from the case following the attorney general’s decision.
“This all must be investigated,” Pelosi said. “What a sad disappointment to our country. The American people deserve better.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy disputed the timeline, saying he believes “the president is not interfering because if you listen to the Department of Justice, they made the decision [to change the sentencing recommendation] before the tweet ever went out.”
“There’s no issue here,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at a news conference Thursday, contending Democrats “do not have facts.”
“All they have is a mission to impeach and this is all they continue to drive when the rest of America would like to move on from their nightmares they put us through and let’s start working on issues that America cares most about,” he said. “You have the Department of Justice clarify saying they made the decision before any tweet went out. So you have no proof of any information.”
Following a failed attempt to remove the president from office, Pelosi’s response to the president’s latest actions seems resigned to ineffective congressional oversight, where divided power on Capitol Hill protects the president from potential accountability.
“Well, it should be investigated,” Pelosi said. “Our committee, the Judiciary Committee, as you know, has invited and he has accepted the attorney general come before the Judiciary Committee, and that will be the end of March.
“I wish it were sooner, but he did accept the invitation so we don't have to go another step there,” she continued.
After reminding reporters that she believes the attorney general lied to Congress during testimony last year about his handling of the Mueller report, she deflected a question asking why she won’t move to impeach Barr, adding that Democrats have other priorities in their agenda to pursue ahead of this fall’s presidential election.
“Our priority was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The president gave us no choice in his actions in violating the separation of powers that is contained in the Constitution, and that is our goal,” she said in reference to Trump’s impeachment.
“There is so much malfeasance on the part of people in the executive branch right now, but the fact is, our responsibility is to honor our oath of office to protect and defend. But we can point out the disrespect that the [attorney general] has for the rule of law, for lying to Congress, and that is really very bad. It’s not a good thing. It is lying to the American people. It is lying to the American people under oath. But our priorities are to do our job for the American people,” Pelosi said.