What Now?! – February 13, 2020

President Trump congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr for “taking charge” of the case against Roger Stone. Yet another confirmation of yet another crime and a confirmation that Barr did in fact intervene corruptly. Said Trump: “Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”

Trump then defended Roger Stone in a series of tweets while attacking the federal judge and prosecutors involved in the case. Trump claimed that Stone was treated “very badly” and suggested that prosecutors “ought to apologize to him.” Trump also implied that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over the case, was biased because of her role in the sentencing of Paul Manafort and dismissal of a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. Stone is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20. When asked if he would pardon Stone, Trump replied: “I don’t want to say that yet, but I tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.”

The four (now former) prosecutors in Roger Stone’s criminal case reportedly weren’t told directly that the Justice Department would be watering down their recommended prison sentence of seven to nine years on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported that the four prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Jonathan Kravis and Michael Marando, found out about the DOJ’s shocking decision only after hearing about it on Fox News.

The prosecutors withdrew from Stone’s case when news of the sentence reversal emerged. One of them, Assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan Kravis, resigned from the Justice Department entirely.

The DOJ’s new filing for a more lenient sentencing did not specify exactly what sentence Stone ought to receive, arguing only that the original recommendation was “excessive and unwarranted.”

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who has been firmly in President Trump’s sights over the last few months, tweeted to the four federal prosecutors who stepped aside from the Roger Stone case after the president’s interference.

Said Page: “I am sorry for the agony you are about to endure, and for the pain and betrayal you will feel at the hands of your beloved Department. Know that you are on the right side of history and that we are so very proud of you for defending the rule of law.”

Trump withdrew Jessie Liu’s nomination to become the Treasury Department’s terrorism and financial crimes undersecretary because of her office’s handling of the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases. While head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, Liu supervised the court proceedings for Trump aides and Mueller defendants, including Rick Gates, Flynn, and Stone, all of which Trump views as illegitimate because they were his associates and he and his associates are above the rule of law.

Liu served in the role from September 2017 until Jan. 31, and coinciding with her departure, the U.S. attorney’s office changed its sentencing stances in both Flynn and Stone’s cases. Trump pulled Liu’s nomination two days before her scheduled confirmation hearing.

Meanwhile, “National security adviser Robert O’Brien said it was his decision to remove Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council and rejected critics’ charge that the move marked retaliation for his testimony during the House impeachment investigation,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Said O’Brien: “I can absolutely tell you they were not retaliated against.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell came close to acknowledging that the central bank may not have the firepower to fight the next recession and called on Congress to get ready to help, Bloomberg reports.

Attorney General Bill Barr has accepted an invitation to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, the New York Times reports.

Politico notes the appearance will end a year-long standoff that began when the panel first demanded his testimony in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Lawfare: “Corruption of the justice system has two major elements. The first—at issue in the Ukraine scandal—is the use of state power to go after one’s enemies. The other is the ability to restrain government power to reward one’s friends and allies.”

“A dramatic display of this latter power took place today, Feb. 11, when the U.S. Department of Justice, having articulated in court its view of an appropriate sentence for President Trump’s associate Roger Stone—convicted recently on multiple felony counts—confronted an angry presidential tweet and then meekly reversed course in a second filing.”

Kim Wehle: “Of course, this president’s abuse of the massive powers of his office will continue because he knows that there is no one within the federal government who is able or willing to stop him.”

Adam DiSabato, a former captain of the Ohio State wrestling team during the late 80s and early 90s, told state lawmakers that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and other team officials “knew about open-shower team facilities that facilitated sexual harassment and abuse of team wrestlers​, an allegation Jordan has denied,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“He also said Jordan called him repeatedly in July 2018, after media outlets quoted his brother, Michael DiSabato, saying Strauss’ abuse was common knowledge to those surrounding the wrestling program, including Jordan.”

Said DiSabato: “Jim Jordan called me crying, groveling… begging me to go against my brother…That’s the kind of cover-up that’s going on there.”

“There haven’t been very strong indicators this week that he has.” — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), quoted by the New York Times, when asked by reporters if President Trump had learned a lesson from impeachment.

“When an outbreak of the Ebola virus touched the United States’ shores in mid-2014, Donald Trump was still a private citizen. But he had strong opinions about how America should act,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump, who has spoken openly about his phobia of germs, closely followed the epidemic, and offered angry commentary about what he said was the Obama administration’s dangerous response. He demanded draconian measures like canceling flights, forcing quarantines and even denying the return of American medical workers who had contracted the disease in Africa…”

“Now Mr. Trump confronts another epidemic in the form of the coronavirus, this time at the head of the country’s health care and national security agencies. The illness has infected few people in the United States, but health officials fear it could soon spread more widely. And while Mr. Trump has so far kept his distance from the issue, public health experts worry that his extreme fear of germs, disdain for scientific and bureaucratic expertise and suspicion of foreigners could be a dangerous mix, should he wind up overseeing a severe outbreak at home.”

After months of promises that the U.K. would be next in line for trade negotiations with the Trump administration, White House economic adviser told Bloomberg that the European Union might still be the easier target for a quick outcome aimed at avoiding a transatlantic tariff battle.

He said trade talks with the EU and U.K. are on separate tracks but because of “some structure” on the EU side, “reigniting that will be easier” than starting from scratch with the U.K.

Former President Barack Obama warned back in 2016 that the U.K. would be at the “back of the queue” in any trade deal with the U.S. if the country chose to leave the EU.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told the Washington Post that he “has received a fine reception from his Senate Republican colleagues and Utah GOP leaders, following his lone Republican vote to convict President Trump in the impeachment trial.”

“Signaling he wants to be a team player, Romney flew home to Salt Lake City for meetings last Thursday — a day after the Senate vote — and then to Palm Beach, Fla., for a National Republican Senatorial Committee gathering.”

New York Times: “This is an unsettled time in Mr. Trump’s Washington. In the days since he was acquitted in a Senate trial, an aggrieved and unbound president has sought to even the scales as he sees it. Colonel Vindman was abruptly marched by security out of the White House, an ambassador who also testified in the House hearings was summarily dismissed, and senior Justice Department officials on Tuesday intervened on behalf of Mr. Trump’s convicted friend, Roger J. Stone Jr., leading four career prosecutors to quit the case.”

“More axes are sure to fall. A senior Pentagon official appears in danger of losing her nomination to a top Defense Department post after questioning the president’s suspension of aid to Ukraine. Likewise, a prosecutor involved in Mr. Stone’s case has lost a nomination to a senior Treasury Department position. A key National Security Council official is said by colleagues to face dismissal. And the last of dozens of career officials being transferred out of the White House may be gone by the end of the week.”

Washington Post: Trump escalates retribution as Republican senators shrug.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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