(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN REPORTER AND U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: REPORTER: Do you think Roger Stone deserves any prison time?
TRUMP: You're going to see what happens lets see what happens.
I think he's treated very unfairly.
Speaking on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Donald Trump defended his criminally-convicted long-time friend Roger Stone.
And despite pushback, including from his own attorney general, Trump defended his right to weigh in on ongoing criminal cases.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I'm actually the chief law enforcement officer of the country." Trump's renewed defense of Stone came as the federal judge overseeing the trial reiterated that Stone would be sentenced this Thursday, regardless of the Washington drama that has erupted around the case.
Roger Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering over his contacts with WikiLeaks.
Prosecutors recommended Stone face up to nine years in jail.
But Trump publicly called that "unfair," and the Department of Justice promptly withdrew the recommendation.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I want to thank the Justice Department." That sent shock waves through Washington... (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, SAYING: "This is an abuse of power that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement." ... and prompted all four prosecutors to quit the case, and one to quit the department.
The White House said Trump did not discuss Stone's case with Attorney General Bill Barr.
But the sentencing fiasco landed Barr in the hot seat.
In an interview, he said he would not be bullied, but that the president's tweets made it impossible for him to do his job.
In a letter published Monday, more than two thousand former Justice Department officials criticized Barr and said his actions "require Mr. Barr to resign." Trump on Tuesday stood by Barr.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I have total confidence in my attorney general." And the president again attacked former special counsel Robert Mueller, who charged numerous Trump associates with crimes ranging from tax fraud to concealing their work for foreign governments.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "So the whole Mueller thing to me is a scam." The comments come the same day Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of a slew of individuals convicted of white collar crimes, corruption, or bribery, including former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, financier Michael Milken, and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik.
Trump declined to say whether Roger Stone was also in line for a presidential pardon.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) EXCHANGE BETWEEN REPORTER AND U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: REPORTER: "Are you planning to pardon Roger Stone?" TRUMP: "I haven't given it any thought.
In the meantime, he's going through a process, but I think he's been treated very unfairly."