President Donald Trump asserted that he has the power to interfere in criminal cases on Friday morning amid the fallout over the Justice Department watering down federal prosecutors’ recommended prison sentence for ex-Trump adviser Roger Stone.
Trump quoted in a tweet Attorney General Bill Barr’s claim that the President “has never” asked him to “do anything in a criminal case.”
“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” Trump wrote.
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
Barr and the DOJ came under fire this week for walking back prosecutors’ recommended sentence of seven to nine years in Stone’s criminal case after Trump complained via Twitter about the “horrible and very unfair” recommendation. Four prosecutors who had sought the sentence resigned from Stone’s case, and one of them left the department altogether.
On Thursday, Barr said that while Trump’s tweets make it “impossible for me to do my job,” it would be “preposterous” to suggest that Trump was behind the DOJ’s reversal.
Additionally, Trump’s claim that he has “so far chosen not to” get involved in a criminal case is a lie: He asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the criminal investigation into Michael Flynn in 2017, according to Comey’s memos on their meeting and his sworn testimony to Congress.