Joe Biden called on Bill Barr to resign on Monday amid the controversy over Roger Stone’s sentencing.
The former vice president joined the mainstream media pile-on of the embattled attorney general, who has faced vicious attacks after seeking to lighten Stone’s punishment for obstruction crimes, according to the Washington Examiner.
Democrats have claimed that Trump, emboldened by his impeachment victory, is turning the Justice Department into a weapon for settling personal scores — and Barr is “facilitating it,” Biden contended.
“This has been the most — the greatest abuse of power I have ever seen at the hands of this president who has no, no sense of decency or understanding of the Constitution,” Biden said, “and Barr facilitating it is beyond my comprehension.”
Biden wants Barr out
Biden said that he agreed with more than 2,000 lawyers who signed a statement Sunday calling on Barr to quit and dramatically claiming that Barr and Trump, collectively, were ushering in a dictatorship. The signatories called on career officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to be prepared to defy Barr, who they accused of doing Trump’s “personal bidding,” if necessary.
The dramatic response came after Barr moved to overrule the recommendation from line prosecutors in Stone’s case that the longtime Trump confidante spend up to nine years in jail for relatively minor process crimes originating from Robert Mueller’s probe. Democrats accused Barr of undermining the integrity of the Justice Department to cut a sweetheart deal for Stone, whose case Trump began angrily tweeting about shortly before Barr intervened in the case.
“No president, no president, no president has ever intimidated an attorney general into abusing power as much as this man has,” Biden said.
Barr and the DOJ have maintained that the decision to roll back Stone’s punishment was made before Trump began tweeting about the case and that there was no undue pressure from Trump. But Democrats have called on Barr to resign or even face impeachment if he refuses to step down.
The AG pushes back
Of course, the drama over Barr is nothing new. Just as Democrats had promised to impeach Trump from the beginning of his presidency, they have villainized Barr ever since his first involvement in the Mueller saga in March 2019 and even before that, accusing the Democrat of acting as Trump’s personal henchman rather than an impartial officer of the United States.
Barr, for his part, has shown a remarkable ability to ignore the almost constantly churning storm of malicious news coverage about him. But in an unusual rebuke last week, the attorney general maintained that he wouldn’t be “bullied or influenced by anybody…whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president” and said that Trump’s constant tweeting was making it “impossible” for him to do his job.
The president has ignored Barr’s warning, continuing to publicly rage against the Mueller “witch hunt” while asserting his “legal right” to intervene in DOJ cases, The Guardian reported.
DOJ dismisses resignation rumors
Democrats have tied the Stone controversy together with numerous actions by Trump that they say show Trump consolidating dictator-like powers after defeating his impeachment. The president commuted the sentence of convicted fraudster Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday, according to The Hill, and it seems possible that he may yet pardon Stone, who will be sentenced Thursday.
As Trump continues to tweet, the DOJ pushed back on rumors circulating in Washington on Wednesday that Barr was at his wits’ end and contemplating quitting of his own volition. “Addressing Beltway rumors: The Attorney General has no plans to resign,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec tweeted.
Like the smears targeting Trump, these attacks on Barr are nothing new. But Barr seems to have a cool enough head to make it through the storm.