Speaking to reporters amid growing outrage over the Justice Department's decision to intervene to reduce Roger Stone's recommended prison sentence, President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied that he instructed the DOJ to step in but asserted he "would be able to do it if I wanted."
"I have the absolute right to do it," Trump said. "I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn't believe but I didn't speak to [the Justice Department]. I thought the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous. And I look at others that haven't been prosecuted... but when you see that I thought it was an insult to our country."
"I think it's a disgrace. No, I have not been involved with it at all," said Trump, who earlier Tuesday tweeted his displeasure with federal prosecutors' recommendation of seven to nine years of prison for Stone for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Stone is a longtime friend, confidant, and adviser to the president.
Watch Trump's comments, which one observer described as the "language of monarchy":
Trump says he didn’t intervene in Roger Stone’s sentencing but “I had the absolute right to do it,” he said, adding “the recommendation was ridiculous.”
Asked if he’ll commute Stone’s sentence, he said: “I don’t want to talk about it” pic.twitter.com/W4m8T66z3y
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) February 11, 2020
On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to congratulate Attorney General William Barr for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought."
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent responded that the president "has now publicly admitted that his attorney general intervened in the case of his own longtime adviser—who obstructed an investigation into an attack on our political system—for the express purpose of undermining DOJ's own investigative conclusions about himself."
Trump has now publicly admitted that his attorney general intervened in the case of his own longtime adviser -- who obstructed an investigation into an attack on our political system -- for the express purpose of undermining DOJ's own investigative conclusions about himself. https://t.co/T3Q9tUMCdt
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 12, 2020
The president's tweet came after he and Barr faced accusations of illegally wielding the power of the Justice Department to overrule career federal prosecutors to protect Trump's friend.
Following the Justice Department's intervention Tuesday, all four prosecutors handling the Stone case withdrew from the proceedings.
"Donald Trump's priorities begin and end with consolidating power," tweeted Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). "Trump spends his days threatening the Justice Department in order to keep his criminal buddies out of prison, while Bill Barr grotesquely pillages the rule of law."