People were astounded when the Justice Department overrode the sentence recommendation of its own prosecutors against staunch President Donald Trump ally, Roger Stone, after the President railed against the recommendation on Twitter. Stone was convicted on multiple felonies last year, including lying to Congress and obstruction of justice.
After the President's public rebuke and the Justice Department's acquiescence to it, all four prosecutors withdrew from the Roger Stone case. One left the Justice Department all together.
In an early morning tweet, Trump all but confirmed that his own Attorney General, William Barr, interceded in the case.
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perha… https://t.co/vqkkJAFZzf— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1581508380.0
He also attacked the career public prosecutors who resigned.
Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9… https://t.co/f30uDSWYU2— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1581475515.0
For people like former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, the debacle further confirmed that the Justice Department is now a weapon of the President instead of an agent of impartial justice working for Americans.
Scarborough railed against Republican Senators—all but one of whom voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial—for enabling and emboldening the President to wield the government to help his friends and to punish his enemies.
"[Trump]'s going crazy," Scarborough said, "he's firing American heroes, he's asking for Vindman...to be prosecuted for telling the truth about what Donald Trump did and what Republican Senators said Donald Trump did."
Scarborough took particular ire with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to acquit Trump after assuring that she thought impeachment taught him a lesson.
"Susan Collins, I'm curious do you really still think Donald Trump learned his lesson, or if the lesson that Donald Trump learned is that with Senators like you giving him a blank check, he can do whatever the hell he wants. Vindman? That's on you. Sondland? That's on you. Roger Stone, Susan Collins, that's on you, and Lamar Alexander it's on you and it's on every Republican that taught Donald Trump once again, there are no consequences to his actions."
He concluded by calling out Republican Senators by name.
"He did it because you Republican Senators gave him a blank check. Congratulations, Susan Collins. Congratulations, Corey Gardner. Congratulations, Lindsey. Congratulations, Martha McSally...Congratulations, Tommy boy."
People shared Scarborough's concerns that acquittal assured the President he can do anything without rebuke—and it's only going to get worse.
In 6 days since acquittal, Trump/WH have: -Removed Vindman -Removed Sondland -Vowed payback/retribution -Attacked… https://t.co/1DdwNOcWTr— Kyle Cheney (@Kyle Cheney)1581473565.0
Vindmans, Stone are just the beginning. Trump knows he owns Republicans in Congress, except one. He knows Barr is a… https://t.co/BYPtgr7hhV— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@Ana Navarro-Cárdenas)1581459891.0
I see Trump is doing exactly what everybody except Susan Collins predicted he'd do after Senate Republicans told hi… https://t.co/movzq3iWDj— Ezra Klein (@Ezra Klein)1581460538.0
BREAKING: The DoJ will lower the recommended prison time for Roger Stone—via AP. This is insane. Trump is taking ab… https://t.co/ZqyEf7KDw5— Scott Dworkin (@Scott Dworkin)1581447390.0
You can have the rule of law. Or you can have the Trump presidency. Not both. And it's getting worse after each tim… https://t.co/sxAkOyYhkx— David Frum (@David Frum)1581478843.0
Republican Senators (other than Romney) gave Trump the green light and he's gassing the engine.— Chris Hayes (@Chris Hayes)1581455102.0
This is what comes from a party abdicating their oaths of office and their Article 1 oversight powers for political… https://t.co/DCfW4OvcTQ— Rachel "The Doc" Bitecofer 📈🔭🍌 (@Rachel "The Doc" Bitecofer 📈🔭🍌)1581473554.0
Then check out How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, available here.