Senate Democrats ask DOJ inspector general to investigate claims of political interference

Barr's sentencing recommendation in the Roger Stone case is among instances of concern cited by Democrats.
Image: William Barr
U.S. Attorney General William Barr attends the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, in Washington, on Dec.10, 2019.Al Drago / Reuters

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

WASHINGTON — Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are asking the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate potential political interference at the department.

In a letter sent Thursday, 10 committee Democrats led by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., ask Inspector General Michael Horowitz to “investigate an apparent pattern of political interference in Justice Department matters” by President Donald Trump or other White House officials. They are asking Horowitz to determine whether there is “a pattern of abuse or misconduct” within the department or among DOJ employees.

The letter, obtained by NBC News, comes after Attorney General Bill Barr stepped in to recommend a lesser sentence for Trump associate Roger Stone than what was requested by the career prosecutors, four of whom resigned from the case or the department in response to Barr's actions.

The senators point to concerns stemming from Barr’s recommendations in the Stone case, his assignment of an outside prosecutor to look into the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the decision to pursue a case against former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe despite recommendations against doing so.

They also note other instances of concern in which the department has been involved in questionable cases, including the role that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has within the Justice Department and his and the president’s efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.