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Trump thanks Justice Dept. for intervening in his friend Stone's case

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published 2 weeks ago - Duration: 02:00s

Trump thanks Justice Dept. for intervening in his friend Stone's case

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to say whether he is considering pardoning longtime adviser Roger Stone, who was found guilty last year of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

This report produced by Zachary Goelman.

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Trump thanks Justice Dept. for intervening in his friend Stone's case

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I want to thank the Justice Department." U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday (February 12) thanked the Justice Department for intervening on the side of Trump's convicted friend and adviser Roger Stone.

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

But Trump on Tuesday publicly complained about that possible punishment, calling it "a horrible and very unfair situation." That tweet drew criticism that Trump was meddling in a criminal matter, criticism Trump rejected on Wednesday.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN REPORTER AND U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Reporter: "Isn't your tweet political interference?" Trump: "No, not at all.

He was treated very badly.

Nine years, recommended.

[FLASH] Roger Stone, for doing, nobody even knows what he did." 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.

After Trump's Tuesday tweet, 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.

The sentencing fiasco has brought renewed allegations that Trump has politicized the Justice Department, and new scrutiny of Trump's appointed Attorney General, William Barr.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NOMINEE FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR (JANUARY 15, 2019): "Am not going to do anything that I think is wrong, and I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong." At his confirmation hearings last year Barr 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 investigate the Stone sentencing reversal.

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

The judge overseeing Stone's case on Wednesday rejected his motion for a new trial.

He is set to be sentenced next week.

Trump on Wednesday declined to say if he would pardon his friend.

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