White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley called reports of President Trump pressuring Attorney General Bill Barr into watering down Roger Stone’s prison sentence “ludicrous” during an interview Wednesday morning on Fox News.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump congratulated Barr in a tweet for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought” and baselessly claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was “improperly brought and tainted.”
Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet seemed to bolster an NBC News report Tuesday evening that Barr intervened in Stone’s case. The President also bashed the four prosecutors who withdrew from Stone’s case soon after the DOJ moved to reduce Stone’s prison sentence. The unprecedented intervention sent shockwaves throughout Washington on Tuesday, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for a probe into what happened.
When asked whether Trump or anyone at the White House pressured Barr or others at the Justice Department to reduce Stone’s prison sentence, Gidley replied “unequivocally no” and cited the President’s remarks in the Oval Office Tuesday when he denied speaking with Barr about Stone’s case before the prison sentence came down.
“In fact, the attorney general and DOJ made very clear that they made this decision before any tweet went out,” Gidley said. “They made this decision on their own because they, in fact, were briefed on something as they said from the DOJ that didn’t actually end up happening. They were told something in that sentencing that didn’t come to fruition.”
After saying “that’s obviously something the DOJ will have to address,” Gidley doubled down on denying that Trump interfered with Stone’s sentencing by arguing that although he is “the chief law enforcement officer” who “has the right to do it,” he “just didn’t.”
Watch Gidley’s remarks below:
Gidley denies Trump pressured Barr to reduce Stone's sentencing pic.twitter.com/aEvXWNP9B4
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 12, 2020