Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., wants Attorney General William Barr to appear before the Senate to answer questions about why Justice Department officials went against their own prosecutors in asking for a shorter prison sentence for Trump ally Roger Stone.
Klobuchar, who is currently vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said during an appearance on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” that while she is “very glad” Barr will testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee, she hopes he’ll make the same commitment to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Klobuchar continued by saying that it would be during these hearings that lawmakers would be able to discover whether the Justice Department was influenced by President Trump to push for a reduced sentence for Stone.
“The president is constantly tweeting out different requests of the Justice Department,” she said. “And I think here, where you've got career prosecutors that made difficult decisions about how to handle this case, they got a conviction, they put their all into it, and then they get undermined on the sentencing.”
Last week, Barr agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in March.
Democrats said they plan to ask Barr about the department’s decision to overrule four federal prosecutors and lower the amount of prison time it would seek for Trump’s confidant, Roger Stone. The four prosecutors immediately quit the case, in which Stone was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
They said they will also ask Barr about his department's announcement that it is taking information that Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine about the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son. The House voted in December to impeach Trump because of his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats; the GOP-led Senate acquitted the president this month.
“In the past week alone, you have taken steps that raise grave questions about your leadership,” the Democrats wrote.
After the department indicated it would overrule the prosecutors, Trump tweeted congratulations to Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have been brought," suggesting the prosecutors had gone rogue.
The department insisted the decision to undo the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night, before Trump began tweeting about it, and that prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.
The Senate has shown less interest in grilling Barr on the Stone episode, defending the department's decision to reduce the sentence and saying they didn't expect to call him specifically to discuss it.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday that he had spoken to the Justice Department and was told that their sentencing guidelines call for three and a half or four and a half years, instead of the seven to nine years the prosecutors had recommended.
“I don't think any of us should tweet about an ongoing case but, having said that, I appreciate the Department of Justice making sure that their recommendations to the court are to seek justice for the law as it's written,” Graham said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.