Trump congratulates Barr on 'taking charge' of Roger Stone sentencing recommendation

The entire team of prosecutors in the case withdrew, apparently in protest.

February 12, 2020, 9:18 AM

President Donald Trump congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr Wednesday morning for "taking charge" in the Justice Department's overruling of the sentencing recommendation made by prosecutors in the case of his longtime friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act signing ceremony in the Oval Office, Feb. 11, 2020.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

"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. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!" Trump tweeted.

The president fired off another tweet on the sentencing recommendation of Stone saying "Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign). Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe?"

File photo of Attorney General William Barr holding a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington on Jan. 13, 2020.
File/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The "swamp creature" the president is referring to is most likely James Wolfe who in 2018 received a two month sentence after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Prosecutors argued at trial that Wolfe told a reporter in October 2017 that he served someone with a subpoena involving the Russia investigation and later lied about the exchange to FBI agents.

In November, Stone was convicted on seven counts including five counts of lying to Congress, one count each of witness tampering and obstruction of a proceeding. Federal prosecutors had told a federal judge initially on Monday that Stone should be sentenced to serve seven to nine years in prison for those charges brought against him by former special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian election interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Roger Stone, former advisor to President Donald Trump, and his wife Nydia Stone arrive at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, Nov. 15, 2019, in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

However, in a stunning turn of events the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memorandum in its case against Stone on Tuesday, noting that the previous recommendation by prosecutors of seven to nine years for Stone “would not be appropriate” and instead said it “defers to the court" while suggesting more lenient treatment.

The updated sentencing memorandum came just hours after Trump tweeted that the initial recommendation was a "horrible and very unfair situation."

"This is a horrible and very unfair situation," Trump said. "The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"

As the DOJ memo was filed with the court, the entire team of four federal prosecutors involved in Stone's case withdrew apparently in protest, capping an extraordinary sequence of events.

The president repeatedly denied Tuesday that he placed his thumb on the scale of justice telling reporters in the Oval Office he did not speak to the Justice Department.

“I stay out of things to a degree people wouldn’t believe," he said, "but I did not speak to them" while adding he had the "absolute right" to get involved.

“I thought that the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought that the whole prosecution was ridiculous. And I look at others who have not been prosecuted or where it is now. But when you see that, I thought that it was an insult to the country. It shouldn't happen. We will see what goes on there, but that was a horrible, aberration,” Trump said.

Trump has an open event with Ecuador's president Wednesday afternoon at which he may take reporter questions about possible political interference with the Justice Department.

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