Trump claims 'legal right' to interfere in his friends' criminal cases

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Trump is under fire for trying to get his longtime friend and ally Roger Stone a lighter sentence.

Donald Trump on Friday claimed he has the right to intervene in criminal matters concerning his friends and allies — despite the longstanding precedent that the Department of Justice should be free of political influence.

Trump set off a firestorm of controversy this week after he tweeted that the nine-year sentence federal prosecutors recommended for his longtime ally Roger Stone was "unfair." Hours after that tweet, the DOJ announced it was overruling those prosecutors to recommend a lighter sentence for Stone — a move that led the four top prosecutors on the case to resign in protest.

Attorney General William Barr admitted in an interview with ABC News that he was the one who intervened to lower the DOJ sentencing recommendation for Stone. But he claimed that Trump's tweet had nothing to do with his decision.

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And in the ABC News interview on Thursday, Barr criticized Trump for tweeting about criminal matters, saying it makes it "impossible" for Barr to do his job and maintain the appearance of an independent DOJ.

On Friday, Trump tweeted a quote from the Barr interview, in which Barr claimed that Trump never asked him "to do anything in a criminal case."

"This doesn't mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!" Trump tweeted.

Stone will be sentenced at the end of the month.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.