(AP) – Attorney General William Barr is about to face some of his harshest critics in Congress.
Barr has agreed to testify March 31 before the House Judiciary Committee. The appearance comes as questions swirl about whether Barr intervened in the case of Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump.
Democrats plan to ask Barr about the department’s decision to overrule four federal prosecutors on the amount of prison time recommended for Stone.
Trump tweeted a congratulations to Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have been brought."
The four lawyers who prosecuted Stone quit the case after the Justice Department overruled them and said it would lower the amount of prison time it would seek for Trump’s ally.
The resignations raise questions over whether Trump had at least indirectly exerted his will on a Justice Department he often views as an arm of the White House.
Trump and the Justice Department say there was no communication.
The four attorneys had signed onto a Monday court filing that recommended up to nine years in prison for Stone.
In a tweet, Trump blasted the original sentencing recommendation as “horrible" and "unfair.”
The Justice Department said the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night before Trump’s tweet and prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.
Stone was convicted in November of a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Stone has denied wrongdoing and called the case politically motivated. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week.