By Joshua Nelson
Published February 14, 2020
Amid backlash from House Democrats, former White House legal team member Robert Ray responded Friday to Attorney General William Barr urging President Trump not to weight in on Justice Department cases.
Trump on Friday insisted he has a “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases, but has so far chosen not to -- amid a controversy surrounding Barr’s decision to overrule a recommended sentence for former Trump adviser Roger Stone.
Trump quoted comments made by Barr in which the AG said: “The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” Barr, on ABC News Thursday, had pushed back on Trump's initial tweet -- where he praised the decision -- while also defending his handling of the Stone case.
"I'm gonna do what I think is right, and you know... I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me," said Barr about Trump's tweets.
“With regard to sentencing since, after all, someone’s liberty is at stake, it’s important for the government of the United States to the Department of Justice to speak with one voice. That’s all the AG was saying,” Ray said Friday on “America’s Newsroom.”
Ray also pushed back on the notion that there was “political pressure involved,” explaining that Barr’s point was that due to the circumstances of a “pending proceeding before a judge at a sensitive time, public respect for the integrity of the Department of Justice and it’s functioning before the court system requires that they speak with one voice.”
“You heard from the attorney general that [political pressure] did not happen and the president seconded that," said Ray, adding that he understands why Democrats are "immediately" rushing to question the truthfulness of both men.
Barr will answer questions on all these issues in a March 31 appearance before the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee.
Earlier this week, four prosecutors quit the case after top officials moved to soften the 7-9 year recommendation for Stone (who was convicted of witness tampering among other charges) after Trump tweeted about the case. Trump on Wednesday denied interfering in the case, but has been extremely vocal about it -- saying Stone "was treated horribly" and called a nine-year sentence "a disgrace."