The chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday defended Attorney General William Barr’s decision last week to intervene in a federal case involving Roger Stone, a long-time ally of President Donald Trump, who was recently convicted on a number of charges.
Marc Short told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that it’s okay of Barr serves as the president’s “wingman,” but that the attorney general is nonetheless an “independent” force within the Justice Department.
Short’s comments come as Democrats criticized Barr for seeking to potentially moderate Stone’s sentence after the four federal prosecutors in the case recommended he serve between seven and nine years, an amount of time the attorney general said he felt was “excessive” given Stone’s convictions of lying to and obstruction Congress, and a lesser form of witness tampering.
The four prosecutors, two of whom were associated with special counsel Robert Mueller, who brought the charges against Stone, resigned from the case after the Justice Department intervened.
Barr is doing a great job and [has] a lot of confidence within the White House,” said Short, who was also pushing back against perceptions that Barr and President Trump are at odds over the president’s tweets about DOJ cases.
“The president’s frustration is one that a lot of the Americans have, which feels like the scales of justice are not balanced,” Short added.
“Today I read in The Washington Post that the attorney general is the president’s wingman, and that is what [former] Attorney General Eric Holder said he was the wingman of Obama, and now this is different,” he said.
“And when Eric Holder said that ‘I am the president’s wingman’ and the media was silent and the fact is that Attorney General Barr is independent, and he came to decisions on his own and not according to the president,” Short said, adding that Barr is attempting to fix issues at the Justice Department including what he perceives as overt politicization during the previous administration.
“There has been a bias within the Department of Justice that Attorney General Barr is trying to correct,” Short claimed. “He said that the president has not called him directly to do these things, but he is [doing it] independently … and I think that he is doing a terrific job with it.”