Pelosi: Trump comments on Stone are 'abuse of power'
U.S. President Donald Trump's comments this week weighing in on the trial of his longtime associate Roger Stone amount to political interference in the judiciary and are "an abuse of power," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.
This report produced by Zachary Goelman.
EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS REPLACES AN EARLIER SCRIPT THAT INCORRECTLY IDENTIFIED SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL AS SENATOR SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL.
REUTERS APOLOGIZES FOR THE ERROR.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, on Thursday (February 13) accused President Donald Trump of abusing his power and interfering in the criminal case of his convicted friend and adviser Roger Stone.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "This is an abuse of power that the president is against trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest." Trump this week angrily tweeted about Justice Department prosecutors who recommended Stone be sentenced to up to nine years in prison.
After his tweets, the DOJ overruled their own lawyers and withdrew the sentencing recommendation.
That reversal sparked criticism that Trump was meddling in the case to cut his friend a break.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN REPORTER AND U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (February 12): Reporter: "Isn't your tweet political interference?" Trump: "No, not at all.
He was treated very badly.
Nine years, recommended.
[FLASH] (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON HOGAN GIDLEY, SAYING: "Had no involvement in that.
He did not have a conversation with the attorney general." The White House denies Trump discussed the matter with Attorney General William Barr.
But Democrats on Wednesday said the sentencing fiasco was another example of the president and his appointee putting Trump's interests above the law.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, SAYING: "Attorney General William Barr ought to be ashamed, and embarrassed, and resign." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF, SAYING: "And this is now what the Justice Department has become.
Essentially, Bill Barr acting as the personal lawyer for the president's interests and not in the interests of the American people." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER, SAYING: "The most powerful person in the country literally changing the rules to benefit a crony guilty of breaking the law." On Thursday, Pelosi added this: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "The president is what he is.
He thinks he's above the law.
He has no respect for the rule.
But where are the Republicans to speak out on this blatant violation?" Some Republicans did express muted concern: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY, SAYING: "I think this was a situation where the tweet was problematic." (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR LINSDEY GRAHAM, SAYING: "I don't think the President should have tweeted about the ongoing case." But Republicans have mostly shrugged off the matter, and the president has ramped up his defenses of Roger Stone.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Roger Stone, for doing - nobody even knows what he did." A jury found Stone guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.
Prosecutors charged Stone had lied about his ties to Wikileaks, the group that disseminated hacked e-mails damaging to Democrats in the 2016 election.
The D-O-J lawyers said Stone lied to protect Trump from looking bad.
Four attorneys who prosecuted Stone quit the case after the D-O-J withdrew their sentencing recommendations.
In tweets, Trump attacked the attorneys and the judge overseeing the case.
On Thursday he accused a juror in the case of political bias, citing a report from Fox News.
Attorney General Barr will testify before a panel of lawmakers about the sentencing next month.
Roger Stone is set to be sentenced next week.
Trump on Wednesday declined to say whether he was considering a pardon for his friend.