On Wednesday night, after Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) had called for Attorney General William Barr to resign after the Department of Justice recommended a lighter sentence for Roger Stone, former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy told Martha MacCallum of Fox News, “The notion that Bill Barr should resign is about the dumbest damn thing I have ever heard.”
Warren had tweeted, “Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General. Barr should resign or face impeachment. And Congress should use spending power to defund the AG’s authority to interfere with anything that affects Trump, his friends, or his elections.” Blumenthal added, “Attorney General William Barr ought to be ashamed and embarrassed and resign as a result of this action directly interfering in the independent prosecution of Roger Stone.”
MacCallum prompted Gowdy by asking, “What’s your take on this story?”
That the prosecutors wanted nine years, Bill Barr thinks that two or three years is more proportional and the only difference between the two is whether you count this eight-level enhancement for actively threatening a witness. If you didn’t have that enhancement, then everyone would agree that Bill Barr’s view of the guidelines is accurate. So the judge is gonna decide whether or not that enhancement is appropriate, supported by the facts.
Martha, this was a trial; she presided over the trial; she listened to the witnesses; she’s uniquely well-positioned to decide whether or not that enhancement should be in play, but the notion — I mean, prosecutors don’t sentence people. Presidents don’t sentence people; Fox News commentators don’t sentence people; judges do. And we give them life tenure so they can make these calls.
But the notion that Bill Barr should resign is about the dumbest damn thing I have ever heard. If a United States senator really believes that the head of the Department of Justice cannot weigh in on what a proportional sentence is — I mean, there are child pornographers who do not get nine years, Martha. There are people who rob banks that don’t get nine years. So let the judge decide. I think two or three year is about right.
MacCallum asked about President Trump’s tweeting about the case, noting Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying Trump should not have issued the tweet.
I’ve had the same position whether it was Barack Obama or Donald Trump: I do not think the chief executive should be weighing in ongoing investigations or criminal prosecutions. That was my position with President Obama when he weighed in on the “not a smidgeon of corruption”; it’s my position now. I can tell you this: Bill Barr was aware of this recommendation before President Trump ever tweeted a single syllable, a single character. So the notion that Barr was somehow motivated to move because of this tweet is just factually wrong.
MacCallum opined that as soon as the Ukraine investigation and subsequent impeachment trial was completed, Democrats decided they would turn to something else to attack the president. She asked if the Barr/Trump/Stone issues would turn into something “sizeable.”
Gowdy answered: “I don’t think so, because the president has the power to commute Roger Stone’s sentence if he wants to; he has the power to pardon him right now if he wants to. He can do it by tweet tonight. He is the head of the executive branch, and people have a chance in November. If hey want a different one — I’m being consistent; I don’t think presidents ought to weigh in on ongoing investigations or prosecutions.”