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Week In The News: Democrats Debate, Trump's Pardons, Calls For AG Barr's Resignation

Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) arrive on stage for the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas on February 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) arrive on stage for the Democratic presidential primary debate at Paris Las Vegas on February 19, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Democrats take the debate stage. President Trump issues a round of pardons. Former DOJ prosecutors call for AG Barr’s resignation. The roundtable is here.

Guests

Astead Herndon, national political reporter for The New York Times. ( @AsteadWesley)

Betsy Woodruff Swan, political reporter for The Daily Beast. ( @woodruffbets)

Amanda Terkel, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post. ( @aterkel)

From The Reading List

The New York Times: “ How Elizabeth Warren’s Camp Is Seeking to Regain the Spotlight” — “A bad month for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts keeps getting worse. She finished in a respectable third place in the Iowa caucuses, but a results-tallying meltdown muddled what could have been a good evening. New Hampshire was better at logistics but worse for her candidacy, considering she ended up closer to candidates who dropped out after the primary than those who finished on top.

“On Sunday, Ms. Warren had a cold so severe it threatened to sideline one of the country’s most famous persisters.

“‘People told me, ‘You have to cancel your day in Reno,’ Ms. Warren said, hoarse and barely audible. ‘I said, ‘Reno has been left out of way too many conversations.’”

USA Today: “ Trump praises embattled Attorney General William Barr, says ‘I do make his job harder‘” — “President Donald Trump praised Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday, brushing aside earlier criticism in which Barr asserted the president’s Twitter posts on criminal cases were making it “impossible for me to do my job.”

“‘I do make his job harder. I do agree with that,’ Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, where the president was preparing to fly to California. ‘He’s a very straight shooter. We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard.’

“The response was unusual for Trump, who rarely shies from punching back against those who criticize him – even if those people are members of his Cabinet. Barr, in an interview with ABC last week, suggested the president should stop weighing in with his thoughts on criminal cases handled by the Justice Department. ”

ABC News: “ More than 2,000 former DOJ officials call on Attorney General William Barr to resign” — “More than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign, according to the group Protect Democracy.

“‘Political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law,’ according to the group, which has been critical of the administration in the past. The nonpartisan, nonprofit group said that the attorney general has “flouted” that fundamental principal.

“The former DOJ officials said it is ‘outrageous’ the way Barr interfered in the Roger Stone case. ‘Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case,’ they wrote.”

The New York Times: “ Warren Leads an Onslaught of Attacks, Zeroing In on Bloomberg” — “The Democratic presidential candidates turned on one another in scorching and personal terms in a debate on Wednesday night, with two of the leading candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders and Michael R. Bloomberg, forced onto the defensive repeatedly throughout the evening.

“In his first appearance in a presidential debate, Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, struggled from the start to address his past support for stop-and-frisk policing and the allegations he has faced over the years of crude and disrespectful behavior toward women.

“Time and again, Mr. Bloomberg had obvious difficulty countering criticism that could threaten him in a Democratic Party that counts women and African-Americans among its most important constituencies.”

The Washington Post: “ Roger Stone sentenced to three years and four months in prison” — “A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser, to serve three years and four months in prison for impeding a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“The penalty from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson comes after weeks of infighting over the politically charged case that threw the Justice Department into crisis, and it is likely not to be the final word. Even before the sentencing hearing began, Trump seemed to suggest on Twitter he might pardon Stone. With the proceedings ongoing, Trump questioned whether his ally was being treated fairly.

“In a lengthy speech before imposing the penalty, Jackson seemed to take aim at Trump, saying Stone ‘was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.’ She also appeared to call out Attorney General William P. Barr, saying intervention to reduce career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation was ‘unprecedented.’ But she said the politics surrounding the case had not influenced her final decision.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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