* NY Times with the setup…
For decades after Watergate, the White House treated the Justice Department with the softest of gloves, fearful that any appearance of political interference would resurrect the specter of Attorney General John Mitchell helping President Richard M. Nixon carry out a criminal conspiracy for political ends.
In 2001, William P. Barr, describing his first stint as attorney general, under President George Bush, spoke of the department’s protected status in the post-Watergate era. “You didn’t mess around with it, didn’t intervene, you didn’t interfere,” he recalled in an oral history.
Fast forward to 2020, and Mr. Barr is attorney general once more. But President Trump’s ground-shaking conduct has demolished those once-sacrosanct guardrails. Mr. Barr’s intervention to lessen a prison sentencing recommendation for the president’s convicted friend Roger J. Stone Jr. prompted all four career prosecutors handling the matter to quit the case.
* WBEZ’s Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold with the local angle…
Chicago’s former top federal prosecutor on Wednesday harshly condemned his former employer, the U.S. Justice Department, after it bowed to President Donald Trump and relaxed sentencing recommendations for the president’s friend, Roger Stone.
Zachary Fardon, who served as U.S. Attorney in Chicago between 2013 and 2017, told WBEZ he had never seen anything like what unfolded Tuesday in Stone’s case but predicted the precedent would not undercut efforts by federal prosecutors in Chicago to fight political corruption. […]
Asked how he would have handled things if he were prosecuting Stone’s case, Fardon said, “Exactly what those prosecutors did yesterday, which is remove myself. […]
“I think we are in unchartered waters on this one,” former FBI Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant told WBEZ in reference to the resignations in Stone’s case. […]
“What we did and what federal prosecutors all over the country do are they’re trying to do justice, they’re trying to do the right thing. And that should not and hasn’t in the past been dependent on who’s sitting in the White House,” said Eric Sussman, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at Chicago’s Reed Smith law office.