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Tue Feb 25, 2020, 01:14 PM

Trump justice: He's using his office to reward friends, punish enemies and tarnish America




Trump justice: He's using his office to reward friends, punish enemies and tarnish America



We count on an independent Department of Justice to look out for us and for America. But Trump has commandeered DOJ to protect his friends and allies.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/02/23/trump-harnesses-justice-department-fight-enemies-help-friends-column/4841585002/

Michael J. Stern Opinion columnist

“The Real Housewives” have nothing on the Department of Justice when it comes to drama. I don’t mean to be flippant. But if I can’t marvel at the absurdity of the nuclear meltdown that is gripping the institution to which I dedicated my professional career, I’m afraid I will cry.

I was concerned when the punchline “Donald Trump” came to be preceded by the title “president.” But my beloved DOJ was filled with career prosecutors whose dedication and integrity would keep the ship on course — even if the storm lasted four years.

I was confident that the traditions that made the Justice Department the most respected law enforcement organization in the world would surely allow it to weather any attorney general Trump could install.

But Trump has commandeered the department and sent a clear message: “Investigate me or people close to me and I will undercut years of your hard work, trash your reputation on Twitter, and create a Hobson’s choice between your integrity and your ability to earn a living. And if you pick the former, I will issue a pardon and undo all you worked for anyway.”



..................Trump justice: He's using his office to reward friends, punish enemies and tarnish America
We count on an independent Department of Justice to look out for us and for America. But Trump has commandeered DOJ to protect his friends and allies.
Michael J. Stern
Opinion columnist

“The Real Housewives” have nothing on the Department of Justice when it comes to drama. I don’t mean to be flippant. But if I can’t marvel at the absurdity of the nuclear meltdown that is gripping the institution to which I dedicated my professional career, I’m afraid I will cry.

I was concerned when the punchline “Donald Trump” came to be preceded by the title “president.” But my beloved DOJ was filled with career prosecutors whose dedication and integrity would keep the ship on course — even if the storm lasted four years.

I was confident that the traditions that made the Justice Department the most respected law enforcement organization in the world would surely allow it to weather any attorney general Trump could install.

But Trump has commandeered the department and sent a clear message: “Investigate me or people close to me and I will undercut years of your hard work, trash your reputation on Twitter, and create a Hobson’s choice between your integrity and your ability to earn a living. And if you pick the former, I will issue a pardon and undo all you worked for anyway.”
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Destructive Trump-Barr alliance

Since Republican senators refused to remove Trump from office, there’s nothing in his path. Trump is certainly getting no pushback from Attorney General William Barr, who has revealed himself to be the second coming of the late Roy Cohn — Trump’s former personal attorney who was disbarred due to his sleazy legal tactics.

Barr’s first order of business was to release a misleading summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report — effectively urinating on what should have been a bonfire that burned Trump’s presidency to the ground. Then, Barr stonewalled congressional efforts to do what an honest reading of Mueller’s report should have done.

Things have only gotten worse since Trump survived his Senate impeachment trial. For a start, Barr has said that he must personally approve any investigation into corruption by a presidential candidate or campaign. That’s the DOJ equivalent of a GPS warning: "Red light camera ahead."
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr

No agent or prosecutor is going to tap the attorney general on the shoulder to ask permission to investigate the man Barr lives to protect. That means Trump and his campaign can solicit assistance from foreign adversaries in this year’s presidential election, and no one will stop them.

As for existing investigations, Barr is second-guessing his department’s work and even changing it to be more favorable to Trump. After Trump tweeted his dissatisfaction with DOJ’s sentencing recommendation against political ally Roger Stone, Barr ordered prosecutors to propose “far less” time in prison.
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His order was such an abuse of power, all four of the Stone prosecutors withdrew from the case and more than 2,600 former federal officials, myself included, published a letter asking Barr to resign.

Failing institutions:Stone prison term: Will courts hold Trump accountable after Congress, Mueller fall short?

But it was mission accomplished for Trump and Barr. On Thursday, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison, substantially less than the seven to nine years requested by the prosecutors.

A similar sequence occurred after Trump expressed unhappiness with the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Prosecutors who had recommended up to six months in prison later said probation would be appropriate. And Barr has now ordered a “reinvestigation” of Flynn’s case, presumably to undermine Flynn’s guilty plea. ...................

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