The Department of Justice confirmed on Tuesday that, following social media posts from President Donald Trump earlier in the day, it would be changing their sentencing recommendations for convicted felon Roger Stone.
Stone was a former political adviser for Trump. He was found guilty in November for a slew of charges, including witness tampering, lying in depositions to Congress, and obstruction, ABC News reported at the time.
Because of the seriousness of the charges involved, federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of 7 to 9 years behind bars for Stone, whom former special counsel Robert Mueller also suggested cultivated a relationship and communication with Wikileaks in the Russia investigation, regarding hacked emails from the Democratic Party.
But the president vociferously expressed angst at those recommendations. On Tuesday morning, Trump stated his outrage on Twitter, leading some to speculate that he may be thinking of pardoning Stone, Fox News reported.
This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump wrote. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
Perhaps due to Trump’s statement, the Department of Justice stepped back, saying that it wouldn’t be making such a recommendation after all, likely resulting in a reduced sentence possibility for Stone.
“A senior DOJ official confirms…that the Justice Department will change its sentencing recommendation for long-time Trump associate Roger Stone,” Tom Winter, NBC News investigations correspondent, tweeted out on Tuesday afternoon.
The move is a rare one, as there has traditionally been a wall separating the president from the Department of Justice on matters such as these. Indeed, DOJ independence has been respected for decades, as Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith has said.
“Every presidency since Watergate has embraced policies for preserving DOJ and FBI independence from the President in certain law enforcement and intelligence matters…in certain matters, the Executive branch needs internal divisions of authority that achieve a type of independence from presidential control,” Goldsmith wrote for Lawfare in 2018.