President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant Roger Stone on Friday, using the extensive powers of the presidency to protect a felon and political ally while also lashing out against a years-long probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
The move, which the White House announced in a lengthy and pugnacious statement, is the latest attempt by Trump to discredit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation after it consumed much of his presidency.
While the commutation was celebrated by Trump’s most stalwart supporters, the muted response by Republican lawmakers and Stone’s own history as a self-described “dirty trickster” indicated that the president’s decision to interfere with the nation’s justice system could be fraught with political risk.
Trump, who has declared himself the president of “law and order” in recent weeks, used his unique presidential authority to undermine the unanimous finding by a jury that Stone broke the law multiple times by lying to Congress and obstructing justice.
July 10, 2020
President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented executive order Thursday to upend the established rules of succession for U.S. attorneys, installing a loyalist to Attorney General William Barr as head prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York.
Seth DuCharme, a career prosecutor in the EDNY, had been detailed to the Justice Department in D.C., first as special counselor to Barr, and at the end of the year took over as principal deputy coordinating the work of the nation’s U.S. attorneys. He will now succeed Richard Donoghue, who is heading to Washington to take the slot DuCharme is vacating. Unknown is whether Donoghue, who coordinated the Ukraine investigations, including those of Rudy Giuliani and Hunter Biden, would continue that oversight from D.C. or whether DuCharme would take over the role.
Donoghue’s resignation initially was to take effect just after midnight Monday, but on Friday afternoon he made his departure effective immediately.
July 10, 2020
New York Times
Geoffrey S. Berman, whom President Trump abruptly dismissed last month as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, told lawmakers on Thursday that Attorney General William P. Barr tried unsuccessfully to pressure him to resign voluntarily, warning that being fired could ruin his career.
Testifying privately before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Berman recounted being summoned with no warning in June to a meeting with Mr. Barr at the Pierre Hotel in New York. The attorney general asked him to step down and offered him prominent government posts if he would do so. Mr. Berman said he rebuffed Mr. Barr time and again during what he described as a tense, 45-minute discussion, telling him he would not resign and he did not want to be fired.
Mr. Barr repeatedly tried to change Mr. Berman’s mind, he testified, warning “that getting fired from my job would not be good for my résumé or future job prospects.”
“I told the attorney general that there were important investigations in the office that I wanted to see through to completion,” Mr. Berman told the committee members.
July 9, 2020
WEST WING EYEBROW RAISER … THE SWAMP CREEPS CLOSE TO THE PRESIDENT! … On two occasions over the last few days, CHRIS COX — who runs House outreach for the White House legislative affairs office — suggested to colleagues he was doing errands and collecting political intelligence for lobbyist friends on K Street.
— COX told colleagues in the White House that he was seeking information on the executive orders that President DONALD TRUMP was readying to issue so he could brief people downtown — in other words, suggesting he wanted to give lobbyists a sneak peek.
— ON WEDNESDAY, COX emailed with fellow White House aides and officials on the National Security Council, seeking to push along an exemption for Gulfstream to deliver private jets overseas after he had a conversation with General Dynamics’ lobbyist. A spokesman for General Dynamics declined to comment.
AS THE TOP HOUSE LEG AFFAIRS OFFICIAL, COX’S job is primarily to help execute the administration’s priorities on Capitol Hill. He worked in the legislative affairs shop during GEORGE W. BUSH’S administration. Prior to joining the White House in March, COX himself was a lobbyist.
IT WAS NOTABLE TO MANY PEOPLE at all levels of the White House that he was openly collecting political intelligence for corporate special interests and lobbyists on K Street from deep inside the sanctum of the White House.
July 9, 2020