John Kennedy defends Barr for overruling prosecutors in Roger Stone case

Washington — Republican Senator John Kennedy came to the defense of Attorney General Bill Barr amid scrutiny over his decision to intervene in the case of Roger Stone, an ally of President Trump’s, with Kennedy saying the attorney general “exercises power fairly and intelligently.”

“This is my experience with Bill Barr,” Kennedy, of Louisiana, said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “He’s mature. He’s serious. He exercises power fairly and intelligently. He’s cursed with a rational mind and he’s tough as a boot.”

  • Transcript: Senator John Kennedy on “Face the Nation”

Kennedy, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, added that “this is the way the process works at Justice, particularly when a public figure is involved,” saying “there are checks and balances and there are multiple layers of supervision.”

Barr is facing growing calls from Democrats to resign after top officials at the Justice Department overruled federal prosecutors who recommended Stone receive seven to nine years in prison. The move led the four prosecutors to abruptly withdraw from the case, with one resigning from the department altogether. 

The Justice Department’s intervention came after Mr. Trump fired off a tweet condemning the sentencing recommendation, raising questions about whether the nation’s top law enforcement agency is shielded from political influence.

Both Barr and Mr. Trump have insisted the president never discussed Stone’s sentencing recommendation, and the attorney general told ABC News that Mr. Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”

But Barr also condemned the president’s frequent Twitter commentary about pending Justice Department cases, saying his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

Kennedy said he hopes Mr. Trump will take the attorney general’s advice.

“Does the president have the right to tweet about a case? Of course,” the Louisiana senator said. “Just because you can sing though doesn’t mean you should sing. You can have a voice like Mick Jagger but you wouldn’t want to start belting out ‘Honky Tonk Women’ in church.”

Kennedy added that “this is a case where tweeting less would not cause brain damage.”

The Republican senator condemned the career prosecutors involved in Stone’s case for reportedly threatening to quit the case over a disagreement in the sentencing recommendation for Stone, saying it is “not the proper procedure.”

“I can tell you if one of my staff members came to me and said, ‘Kennedy, I don’t agree with your position on net neutrality, and if you don’t change it, I’m going to quit and call a press conference.’ I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d say, ‘You have me confused with somebody who cares about what you think. Go call your press conference. You can’t resign because you’re fired,'” Kennedy said.

Stone was found guilty in November of seven charges, including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction. He is scheduled to be sentenced February 20.

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