The White House and Donald Trump himself insists that he did not exert any direct influence on AG William Barr in the Roger Stone sentencing matter.
On Wednesday, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley spoke to reporters about the case. This came after all four prosecutors resigned in protest on Tuesday following the DOJ’s decision to change their sentencing recommendations.
Gidley denied that the president spoke to Barr about the case, but added he has “the right to do so if he wanted to.” The secretary also said he did not know if the president asked the attorney general to investigate anyone at any time. He then dismissed questions regarding the resignation of Stone’s prosecutors.
“Whatever grievance they have, whatever they’re upset about, that’s something you’d have to ask them – I obviously can’t speak for them,” said Gidley. “I can just tell you over here, the president made his thoughts very well known about not just the Mueller investigation, but the sentencing of Roger Stone.”
When asked about a potential pardon for Stone, Gidley said he has not spoken to the president about it.
For his part, President Trump, in typically worded tweets and comments to reporters, dismissed criticism that the Justice Department was abandoning its traditional independence by responding to his unhappiness with the recommendation that Mr. Stone serve up to nine years in prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry.
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agreed with the DOJ’s decision to reduce its recommended prison sentence for Roger Stone. While speaking to reporters, Graham said a seven to nine year sentence proposal for Stone was not appropriate.
He cited a letter from the victim in the case, in which the person explained they didn’t feel threatened by the former political consultant. Graham suggested the existence of the letter should be enough to reduce Stone’s sentence to three or four years.
The senator added he does not think his committee will investigate the DOJ’s decision. He also said he would not call Attorney General William Barr to testify on this matter.