Donald Trump said that four Justice Department prosecutors resigned from his former associate Roger Stone’s case this week because they were “caught” by the president, not out of moral objections after their sentencing recommendation was overruled.
“I don’t think they quit the case, I think what they do is they felt they got caught,” Trump said Thursday in a radio interview with Geraldo Rivera. “I don’t think they quit for moral reasons. I think they got caught in the act by me.”
Trump also defended his intervention in Stone’s case after the prosecutors recommended he spend seven-to-nine years in prison.
“Now what am I going to do, sit back and let a man go to jail maybe for nine years, when murderers aren’t going to jail?” Trump said.
Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and other charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, a probe Trump has repeatedly belittled as a “witch hunt.” A Justice Department official said after Trump complained about the sentencing recommendation Tuesday that it would be reduced. The four prosecutors resigned from the case the same day and one quit the department altogether.
The resignations were widely interpreted as a protest against political interference in the case. The president complimented Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.”
Trump and the Justice Department have both said that the decision to reverse the sentencing recommendation was made independent of the president’s tweets, and that Barr and Trump didn’t discuss the matter.
Thursday marked the second consecutive day in which Trump publicly scolded the prosecutors, telling reporters on Wednesday that their sentencing recommendation was “a disgrace to our country” and that he wasn’t concerned that DOJ leaders had acted improperly.
“I’m not concerned about anything,” Trump said. “They ought to go back to school and learn, because I’ll tell you, with the way they treated people, nobody should be treated like that.”
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