Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) thinks the Trump administration’s about-face at the Justice Department this week represents an “emergency.”
President Trump assailed the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendations for his friend and longtime adviser, Roger Stone, just before the department reversed course and said it would seek a more lenient sentence.
All four career prosecutors on the case withdrew in protest, and one quit his job.
Trump “essentially overrode line prosecutors in a case,” Raskin told Maryland Matters this week in a brief interview on Capitol Hill.
“He didn’t like the fact that his buddy Roger Stone was being recommended for seven to nine years for his multiple felony offenses against the United States. And Attorney General Barr — acting as consigliere to Donald Trump rather than as the chief law enforcement officer — overrode all of the line attorneys.”
Raskin called it “a massacre of the rule of law. This is banana republic territory when the president is trying to dictate the prosecution of his buddies in cases that relate to him.”
Stone is scheduled to be sentenced next Thursday by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a Baltimore native.
Stone was convicted last year of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress about his efforts to benefit from Democrats’ stolen emails ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump attacked Judge Jackson on Twitter this week. “Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!” he wrote.
Jackson added three and a half years years in prison to the almost four years that Manafort — Trump’s former campaign chairman — had received in a separate case, The Washington Post reported, but she didn’t have authority over the conditions of his confinement, as Trump tweeted.
Asked about what the House can do to counter Trump after the Senate acquitted him on charges of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, Raskin stressed that Trump had been impeached by the House.
Senate Republicans, he said, “failed in their duty to be impartial jurors. They acted like members of a religious cult instead.”
The House, he said, still has “to be willing to play constitutional hardball to defend the rule of law. We have to use every oversight power we have. We have to be willing to use the inherent powers of contempt that Congress has and we have to be willing to call the president out for every constitutional transgression he commits.”
But, he acknowledged, “there’s not a lot of appetite right now for reviving an impeachment process, just because the Senate under the guidance of [Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has proven itself to be totally submissive and craven to the president. It’s a total surrender of their constitutional duty.”
Raskin was one of the most vocal House Democrats advocating for Trump’s impeachment last year, and was often cited as a likely manager for the impeachment trial in the Senate. But Raskin wasn’t one of the seven managers tapped to prosecute Trump in the upper chamber.
“I was very willing to do it,” Raskin told Maryland Matters. “Obviously, I’d been super active on the House side, but there were tons of people who wanted to be part of it and I didn’t wage any kind of campaign to do.”
“Look, we have our hands full defending the Constitution and the rule of law every single day here, so our work is not remotely finished. I’m not even sure that investigation is finished,” Raskin said.