Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 will be remembered as a watershed mark in our nation’s history. With President Donald Trump sitting in the oval office, we’ve seemed to cross this mark repeatedly. Norms crumble as Trump consistently operates in ways that can be interpreted as abuses of the office of the Presidency. This time, he really might have done it.
With the swift power of a tweet, Trump strong-armed his justice department, calling for a reduced sentence for his 2016 campaign advisor, Roger Stone. Stone had been convicted in trial on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering.
Prosecutors in the case followed United States sentencing guidelines, recommending a seven-to-nine year sentence given the severity of Stone’s crimes. In response, four career prosecutors resigned from the case, with one resigning from the Justice Department entirely.
With the unprecedented departure from the Justice Department’s sentencing guidelines, the last vestiges of the Department of Justice’s independence were erased as Trump’s political whims won out over America’s long-standing view of the rule of law.
Traditionally, the DOJ operates independently of the White House, in order to maintain faith in the justice system. When a commander-in-chief can usurp power from the career professionals at the DOJ in order to serve his and his allies personal interests, it shatters the credibility of the department.
The following day, Trump once again weighed in on the case, congratulating Attorney General William Barr for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.”
All of this comes in the wake of Trump’s retribution against witnesses during the impeachment hearings. Such acts are inherently corrupt, showing a lack of respect for America’s institutions as he continues to attempt to remake America into his ideal image. A place where anyone who opposes him is a crook who should be locked up and any wrongdoing is waived off.
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