Reprinted with permission from Alternet
President Donald Trump unleashed a furious rant on Wednesday in the Oval Office against the prosecutors in the case against his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone.
After Stone had been found guilty on charges of lying to Congress and obstructing its investigation, prosecutors had recommended the judge sentence him to between seven and nine years in prison, in accordance with the federal sentencing guidelines. But in a highly unusual move, the day after that sentencing memo was filed, the Justice Department immediately undercut the prosecutors and told the judge that the recommendation was excessive. All four prosecutors withdrew from the case that same day after this extremely unorthodox move by the department. (Trump has also lashed out at the judge in the case.)
On Wednesday, Trump denied directing the Justice Department to override the sentence recommendation — even though he believes it would be fine if he did so — but he had publicly expressed his outrage at the potential sentence on Twitter.
Trump also specifically targeted the prosecutors who left the case.
“They all hit the road very quickly,” Trump said. “They treated Roger Stone very badly. They treated everybody really badly.”
He also called the broader Russia investigation carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller a “scam.” He referred vaguely to a Justice Department inspector general report that found some wrongdoing in the investigation before Mueller came on board, particularly in the surveillance of a onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page. But he didn’t mention that the same report found that the investigation was properly opened and showed no indication of being started on the basis of political bias.
Trump claimed that “nobody even knows what” Roger Stone did. In fact, the prosecutors have explained it quite clearly, and he was found guilty by a jury:
Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law.
They also noted that Stone’s crimes were not one-off mistakes, heat of the moment errors, or mere trouble with his memory. Stone carried out “a multi-year scheme” to deceive the Congress, they said.
“They put him in for nine years?” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace! And frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of the people whose lives they’ve ruined.”
For good measure, Trump also suggested that other frequent targets of his ire should be pursued criminally, including former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok.
Asked whether he would pardon Stone, Trump said: “I don’t want to say that yet. But I tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.”
Watch the remarks below:
Cody Fenwick is a senior editor at AlterNet. He writes about politics, media and science. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.