As the fallout from the controversy surrounding Roger Stone’s prison term continued Tuesday night, President Trump defended his longtime confidant by firing off a barrage of heated tweets attacking the federal judge and prosecutors involved in the case.
He implied that Jackson harbored some broad bias, linking the Stone case to her role in the sentencing of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and her dismissal of a lawsuit against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton related to Benghazi, Libya.
“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure?” Trump wrote, sharing another tweet that named Jackson. “How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”
Jackson is scheduled to sentence Stone, who was convicted in November of lying to Congress and witness tampering, on Feb. 20.
The timing of Tuesday’s online attack prompted many to accuse Trump, who has a long history of mounting public crusades against judges and courts over unfavorable rulings, of attempting to intimidate Jackson and secure a more lenient sentence for Stone.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.
Trump’s fusillade of tweets came shortly after news broke that the Justice Department had overruled the sentencing recommendation for Stone submitted by federal prosecutors, an action that followed Trump blasting it as too harsh.
The prosecutors, citing federal sentencing guidelines, said Stone should serve seven to nine years in federal prison.
In an early-morning tweet Tuesday, Trump lambasted the proposed punishment as “a miscarriage of justice!” Hours later, the Justice Department announced that it would be revising the recommended prison term — a stunning decision that sparked widespread concern about the president undermining the traditional independence of the agency when it comes to individual prosecutions. (The Justice Department said it did not communicate with the White House about Stone’s case this week and Trump told reporters Tuesday that he has “not been involved in it at all,” The Washington Post reported.)
The growing scrutiny of Trump’s perceived effect on the Stone case did little to keep him from weighing in again Tuesday night.
Amid slinging barbs at 2020 Democratic presidential candidates battling it out in the New Hampshire primary, Trump was in full attack mode as he griped about the original sentencing recommendation and demanded to know the identities of the prosecutors behind it. All four prosecutors withdrew from the case, with one quitting his job, following Tuesday’s events.
“Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started?” Trump tweeted, referencing the Russia investigation overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that led to Stone’s conviction.
In a later tweet, Trump appeared to suggest that he was considering the possibility of pardons for Stone and former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during the Mueller investigation.
Many seemed to be most taken aback by Trump’s tweet about Jackson, including Clinton, his Democratic opponent in 2016.
In the tweet, Trump questioned Jackson’s treatment of Clinton, probably referencing her dismissal in 2017 of a wrongful death claim brought against the former secretary of state in connection with Benghazi. The suit alleged that Clinton’s use of a private email server caused the deaths of two Americans at the U.S. diplomatic compound in the Libyan city.
“Do you realize intimidating judges is the behavior of failed-state fascists?” Clinton tweeted Tuesday in response to Trump.
Trump has repeatedly gone after judges who rule against him and questioned the judiciary’s constitutional authority. The president’s pattern of attacks have been condemned by lawyers and law professors, who have called his rants “worse than wrong” and “dangerous.”
His frequent references to “Obama judges” prompted Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to issue a rare rebuke of the president in 2018.
On Tuesday, Trump’s swipe at Jackson was similarly received. People rushed to fact-check the tweet and denounced Trump for “siccing his 70 million Twitter followers” on Jackson, as one person put it. Within moments of the tweet getting posted, Trump’s supporters were already chiming in, calling Jackson “truly evil” and slamming her as “a far-left activist Judge.”
But, the tweet misrepresented Jackson’s involvement in the Manafort case since the judge only sentenced Trump’s former campaign manager to 7½ years and was not responsible for the conditions of his confinement while awaiting trial.
FACTS: Yes, the judge sent Manafort to jail cuz broke the law again while out on bail. His VIP cell had a private shower and laptop. His lawyers told a separate judge that he was too far away — so that judge sent him to a new jail, where he was put in solitary for his own safety. https://t.co/rvVOqozlbA— Marshall Cohen (@MarshallCohen) February 12, 2020