In President Donald Trump's latest undermining of justice, he declared that convicted felon Roger Stone will serve no time in prison. Add this to Trump's pardons for war criminals, his firing of inspectors general, his administration's National Guard attack on peaceful protesters and all the other examples of his contempt for the law.
We've decried the lawlessness in the streets that marred protests over the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd, but no one should forget that some of the most dangerous lawlessness today comes right from the top.
Stone is the Trump political adviser convicted last year of impeding congressional and FBI probes into the Russian government's connections to Trump's 2016 campaign. Try as Trump does to paint it as a "witch hunt," the fact is, when a presidential candidate publicly calls on the Kremlin to help his campaign, and officials in that campaign meet with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, such probes are more than justified.
Stone didn't think so. The career Republican dirty trickster was convicted of five felony counts of lying to investigators, one count of witness tampering, and one of obstructing a congressional probe.
Federal prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of seven to nine years — less than Stone could technically have faced but in line with federal sentencing guidelines. But their boss, Attorney General William Barr, intervened and asked for a lighter sentence, right after Trump himself publicly demanded it via (where else?) Twitter.
Barr had long since lost any credibility as America's top law enforcement official, showing himself to be just another Trump crony, but the move was still shocking enough to prompt the four-member Justice Department team prosecuting Stone to resign from the case in protest.
Barr's office didn't ask the judge for a specific sentence for Stone, just that it be lighter. Trump weighed in, with outlandish inappropriateness, to suggest a specific sentence: Nothing. "He can sleep well at night," Trump tweeted late last week in response to a supporter's call for Stone's pardon.
The investigation that Trump keeps calling a witch hunt obtained the convictions against Stone and many other clearly guilty Trump associates, Kremlin associates and others, as well as presenting damning evidence that Trump personally, repeatedly obstructed justice.
He pardons guilty cronies, ignores congressional subpoenas, fights proper legal attempts by plaintiffs to obtain his business records and, along the way, publicly calls for violence against protesters.
As for America's top law — the Constitution — his contempt for it was, most recently, demonstrated when those acting on his behalf violently cleared peaceful protesters so Trump could stand in front of a church for the cameras.
This president coddles criminals, yet still his Republican enablers in Congress sit in obedient silence. Once upon a time, the GOP called itself the "law and order" party. No more.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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