The Rule of Law Is Being 'Suffocated' by Trump and His 'Personal Henchman' Barr, Says Harvard Constitutional Scholar

A prominent constitutional scholar at Harvard has said the rule of law is "gasping for breath" under President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr amid the Roger Stone sentencing affair.

The Department of Justice has intervened to lessen the seven- to nine-year sentence recommended by prosecutors for Stone, a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign adviser convicted of seven felonies, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. In response, Stone's four prosecutors have quit.

Trump has also attacked the Stone case and hinted at a pardon. The president called it a "miscarriage of justice" and said the original sentence recommendation was "ridiculous."

Laurence Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and professor of constitutional law at Harvard, accused Trump and Barr of wielding "immoral power."

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"The Rule of Law is gasping for breath, being suffocated by Trump and his personal henchman Bill Barr," tweeted Tribe, a frequent critic of the Administration. "Not even a pretense of legality. They're doing it because they can. It's raw, naked, unprincipled, immoral power."

Tribe was responding to an NBC News report alleging that Barr is now handling legal matters of interest to Trump, such as the Stone case.

"This signals to me that there has been a political infestation," Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney in Virginia and an NBC legal analyst, said on MSNBC. "And that is the single most dangerous thing that you can do to the Department of Justice."

Barr's characterization of the Mueller report's findings before its public release drew criticism for allegedly misleading Congress over the conclusions, giving Trump space to promote his false claim of "total exoneration" by the special counsel investigation.

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More recently, Barr has faced scrutiny for opening up a channel that enables the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to funnel any dirt he digs up in Ukraine on former Vice President Joe Biden directly to the justice department.

Now, the Department of Justice filed to Stone's court a sentencing memo undermining the previous one put forward by the convicted Trump ally's prosecutors.

The filing said the original sentencing memo "does not accurately reflect" the justice department's position on "a reasonable sentence in this matter," and that the court should decide. The new filing admitted Stone committed "serious offenses."

"The district court judge should pay no attention to Barr's politically driven recommendation. It's not binding on her and deserves no deference at all," Harvard's Tribe tweeted.

"So great that Judge Amy Berman Jackson isn't subject to Trump's influence! Thank heaven for the independent judiciary. Let Trump spew whatever garbage his foul mouth blurts out. Nobody need listen."

Stone, 67, is a longtime friend of Trump and a Republican political strategist who plays on his reputation for dirty tricks. He was convicted in November on seven federal counts relating to the House inquiry into Russian links between the Trump 2016 campaign.

The campaign adviser's connection to WikiLeaks, which disseminated DNC emails stolen by Russian hackers and intended to damage the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, was probed by investigators.

The original sentencing memo noted Stone's threat to physically injure a witness, which it said enhanced the proposed sentence. So did Stone's "contempt for this court and the rule of law," including his posting to social media the picture of the presiding judge "with a crosshair next to her head."

The White House and the Department of Justice have been contacted for comment.

Roger Stone Trump case Larry Tribe
Former advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, departs the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse after being found guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on November 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Stone faced seven felony charges and was found guilty on all counts. Win McNamee/Getty Images
The Rule of Law Is Being 'Suffocated' by Trump and His 'Personal Henchman' Barr, Says Harvard Constitutional Scholar | Politics