President Donald Trump on Tuesday called the Justice Department’s initial sentencing recommendation for his friend and adviser Roger Stone “ridiculous” but denied intervening on Stone’s behalf to make the proposed sentence lighter.
After reports indicated the Justice Department would dramatically scale back its initial recommendation that Stone serve up to nine years in prison, three prosecutors quit the case, and two of them left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. entirely. The Justice Department filed a new, lighter sentencing recommendation Tuesday afternoon.
But Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said he hadn’t pressured the Justice Department to change its sentencing recommendation in Stone’s favor.
“I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe, but I didn’t speak to them,” Trump said, asked if he’d spoken to Justice Department officials about Stone’s sentencing recommendation.
“I thought the recommendation was ridiculous, I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous,” he added.
Stone was found guilty in November on all counts against him, including lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of an official proceeding.
“These are the same Mueller people that put everybody through hell,” Trump added later, referring to prosecutors.