In a supine interview to help Bill Barr rehabilitate his reputation, Lester Holt asked the former Attorney General about intervening to lessen Roger Stone’s sentence. According to the summary thus far posted, Barr claims it was made to look bad, but really he just thought it was right to halve the sentencing recommendation for the guy hiding the President’s knowledge of Russian interference during the 2016 election.
As for his decision to soften a prison sentence for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone that Trump had repeatedly blasted as unfair, Barr said: “I knew it would be made to look bad. At the end of the day, all you can do is what you think is right.”
Barr’s intervention was an ominous precursor to the January 6 riot. In slashing Stone’s sentencing recommendation, Barr affirmatively said that threats by Roger Stone and the Proud Boys on judge Amy Berman Jackson were just a technicality unworthy of a sentencing enhancement. He similarly suggested that the threat of militia violence against Randy Credico that, in summer 2018, was serious enough that the FBI gave him a warning, did not merit a full 8-point enhancement for threats of violence.
Less than a year before two Stone-connected militias led an attack on Congress, the Attorney General let it be known he didn’t find those threats to be all that serious.
That’s likely one factor that led the FBI to treat the Proud Boys as intelligence partners against Antifa rather than a dangerous gang to be infiltrated.
And Barr continues that approach to militia-assisted witness tampering. Holt asked Barr whether Trump was responsible for the mob led by Stone’s militia buddies at the Capitol. Barr responded by describing, effectively, witness tampering.
Do you think that President Trump was responsible for what happened here, ultimately?
I do think he was responsible in the broad sense of that word in that, it appears that part of the plan was to send this group up to the Hill. I think the whole idea was to intimidate Congress. And I think that that was wrong.
“Part of the plan,” the former top law enforcement officer in the US said, “was to send this group up to the Hill … to intimidate Congress.”
In describing January 6 that way, Barr better understands how the insurrection worked than so many TV lawyers. He described it as an attempt to corruptly convince Congress to do something illegal and, in asserting that sending the mob was part of the plan, describes it as pre-mediated obstruction. This is, by all appearances, the crime for which that DOJ is investigating the former President.
But then, having described the same crime, witness tampering and obstruction, achieved in partnership with the same militias, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, as Barr minimized with Stone, Barr then suggests Trump hasn’t committed the crime of incitement.
But, he added, he hasn’t seen evidence that Trump committed an actual crime. “I haven’t seen anything to say he was legally responsible for it in terms of incitement,” Barr said.
And Holt let him.
Barr is going to keep saying that mob violence by the Proud Boys is no big thing until someone like Lester Holt calls him out for coddling crime.