Former frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination Joe Biden appeared on MSNBC to decry the actions of Attorney General William Barr and his “intervention” in the Roger Stone sentencing. Biden described the supposed pressure from President Donald Trump as “the greatest abuse of power” he had ever seen, echoing the sentiments of House Democrats’ failed impeachment endeavors. But has Biden perhaps forgotten the Eric Holder debacle? Or does he suffer selective blindness as yet another of his mental faculty failings?
Storm in a Teacup
Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was widely condemned for suggesting that a seven- to nine-year sentence for Roger Stone was too harsh; several prosecutors stood down from their position in protest. A court filing from the DOJ said:
“While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here, the government respectfully submits that the range of 87 to 108 months presented as the applicable advisory Guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case.”
The filing went on to state that Stone’s advanced age and lack of criminal history should be mitigating factors. Democrats and the media naturally piled on, suggesting that because Trump tweeted his belief that the prosecutor’s recommendation was unfair and that a DOJ filing asked for a lighter sentence, this was somehow an abuse of power.
Thus Spake Biden
Biden gave his opinion:
“This has been the most — the greatest abuse of power I have ever seen at the hands of this president who has no, no sense of decency or understanding of the Constitution, and Barr facilitating it is beyond my comprehension.
“No president, no president, no president has ever intimidated an attorney general into abusing power as much as this man has.”
Was this not the same former VP who, up until two weeks ago, was thoroughly convinced that the president had sought foreign intervention from Ukraine in order to investigate him and his son? And earlier, didn’t “No Malarkey” Joe state loudly and proudly that Trump had worked with Russia to steal the 2016 election? How, then, is a tweet regarding a prison sentence “the greatest abuse of power” he has ever seen?
What About Holder?
In 2014, AG Eric Holder was deemed in contempt for refusing to hand over documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal in which the government quite literally handed over firearms to criminals. Aside from the incredibly poor optics, was this act of defiance not a much greater abuse of power?
We have entered the age of the superlative. Every event is now regarded as the Biggest, the Greatest, the Worst that has ever happened. The shrill hyperbole of the permanently outraged has turned subtlety into sledgehammers and nuance into nitrogen, and Biden appears to be leading this charge for his own political position.
The public is expected to be glassy-eyed and forgetful as righteous fury is doled out from on high, and if they don’t bleat loud enough, well, maybe they’re just not patriotic enough.
Two facts need to be remembered. First, the DOJ recommended only that the sentence be reduced. It is, and always has been, the judge who makes the final decision. In this case, Amy Berman Jackson, the same judge who refused to sanction Eric Holder. As Liberty Nation’s Scott D. Cosenza wrote:
“He will be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson – not by the Justice Department or anyone else. You could be forgiven for thinking somehow that the DOJ was the sentencing body given how the story has been reported. The DOJ often recommends sentences to judges, but it has no legal basis for doing anything other than recommending. Judges impose sentences. That President Trump decided the sentencing recommendation arrived at by a Democrat and Obama administration lawyer was not appropriate is not a scandal.”
The second point is that AG Barr and the DOJ have done nothing wrong or out of the ordinary. For that matter, the president tweeting that he thinks something is unfair could never be grounds for yet another impeachment effort. It is not the Worst scandal, it’s not the Greatest abuse of power, and it’s not the workings of a sane and rational mind to suppose that it is.
Read more from Mark Angelides.