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Let's take a moment to spare some pity for Bill Barr. Being the U.S. Attorney General can be a tough gig. It's a job held at the pleasure of the president, though also attached to a largely unrealistic expectation that the officeholder will act independently. Historically, it's been a hatchet-man position, doing dirty work through the institutions of the ever-expanding Justice Department on behalf of White House paranoia and prejudices. It's gotta be hard enough to maintain your self-respect in a position like that without your boss sending you instructions in front of the world via social media.
Only spare a little pity, though. Barr—a loyalist to the president, as anybody in that powerful cabinet position must be—stepped into this situation with his eyes open.
Now, however, Barr complains that President Donald Trump's off-the-cuff pronouncements and tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job." He told ABC News last week that "it's time [for Trump] to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases."
Barr's latest complaint comes after the department went against federal prosecutors' recommendation of a stiff 87 to 108 months in prison for Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted for obstructing a congressional investigation, lying to a congressional committee, and witness tampering.
In and of itself, the sentencing reduction was perfectly justifiable. "A prison sentence of seven to nine years is disproportionate given the nature and consequences of Stone's crimes," as Reason's Jacob Sullum noted. "I can see why people thought this was an excessive sentence," chimed in CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
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