Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, says Trump has opened himself up to accusations of obstruction of justice by interfering in Roger Stone’s court case.
Prosecutors in the case had recommended seven-to-nine years in prison for Stone, Trump’s close friend and confidant. Then, Trump took to Twitter to complain about the recommendation. Shortly after, higher-ups at the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they would undercut and revise the sentence recommendation.
“It seems most likely that (U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea’s) second filing came in response to this tweet by President Trump, and that the very reason he’s there is because he’s the hand-picked pawn of William Barr.” - Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
Finally, came the exodus. All four prosecutors handling the Roger Stone case withdrew — one quitting his job altogether in protest.
McQuade tweeted about the resignations, calling them “Extraordinary acts of courage” by Stone prosecutors. “But no choice, really, if you honor your duty to serve the public,” she continued.
Click on the audio player above to hear former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade talk about the controversy at the Department of Justice.
She notes that the acting U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, until last week when he assumed that role, “was a close aide of William Barr at the Department of Justice in the attorney general’s office.”
In a conversation with Stephen Henderson on WDET’s Detroit Today, she expanded on her calls for Timothy Shea to resign.
“Either he’s just taking orders from the president — which…undermines the independence of the Justice Department — or his prosecutors went off and filed this thing without his knowledge, which is no way to run a U.S. Attorney’s Office, and I find very hard to believe, especially in light of their resignation. And so either of those scenarios means he’s a failed leader. But it seems most likely that his second filing came in response to this tweet by President Trump, and that the very reason he’s there is because he’s the hand-picked pawn of William Barr,” says McQuade.
“Not only is President Trump taking care of his friend, he’s taking care of himself.” - Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
McQuade says this could mean more accusations of illegal activity involving the president.
“President Trump’s efforts to take good care of Roger Stone, I think could be perceived by many as obstruction of justice, of preventing him from cooperating with authorities,” she says. ”Someone in Roger Stone’s position could cooperate up until the time he’s sentenced and even up until a year after he is sentenced for a reduction in his sentence. If he gets a lenient sentence he loses any incentive he might have to cooperate. So not only is President Trump taking care of his friend, he’s taking care of himself.”