Trump hails Barr for 'taking charge' of Stone case

Video Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 12, 2020 - Duration: 02:12s

Trump hails Barr for 'taking charge' of Stone case

Donald Trump on Wednesday praised the head of the Justice Department for intervening on behalf of one of the president's friends and advisers who is facing sentencing after he was found guilty of seven charges including lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering.

This report produced by Zachary Goelman.


Trump hails Barr for 'taking charge' of Stone case

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday (February 12) praised the head of the Justice Department for "taking charge" of the federal felony case against Trump's friend and adviser Roger Stone.

He tweeted, "Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought." Stone was convicted in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering, charges stemming from a special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Prosecutors this week recommended Stone get up to nine years in prison.

But Trump publicly complained about that possible punishment week, calling it "a horrible and very unfair situation." And in a surprise move, the Justice Department reversed course, overruling its own lawyers, and withdrawing the sentencing recommendation.

That move prompted four of the attorneys who prosecuted Stone to resign from the case.

One quit the department, and three were re-assigned.

Trump said he didn't talk to D-O-J about the case but insisted he had the "absolute right" to intervene in the matter.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "No, I didn't speak to the Justice - I'd be able to do it if I wanted.

I have the absolute right to do it.

I stay out of things to a degree that people would believe.

But I didn't speak to them.

I thought that the recommendation was ridiculous.

I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous." The sentencing fiasco has brought renewed claims that Trump is politicizing the Department of Justice, and drawn new scrutiny to Trump's appointed attorney general.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR (JANUARY 15, 2019): "I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong." At his confirmation hearings he insisted he would not be bullied by the White House and would protect the independence of the Justice Department.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR, SAYING (JANUARY 15, 2019): "I feel that I'm in a position in life where I can provide the leadership necessary to protect the independence and the reputation of the department and serve in this administration." But Democrats have since accused Barr of acting as a pawn of the president.

Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said he will probe the Stone sentencing reversal.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he would ask the D-O-J's internal watchdog to investigate.

Roger Stone is set to be sentenced next week.

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