Emboldened Trump seeks revenge post impeachment trial

By Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:47 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020
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3:15 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Trump thanks Justice Department for intervening in Roger Stone case

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Pool
Pool

President Trump thanked the Justice Department today for intervening in the case involving his onetime campaign associate Roger Stone.

Trump, in a meeting with the Ecuadorean president in the Oval Office, again said he hadn’t spoken to the department about the case.

He declined to say whether he was considering a pardon for Stone, saying he didn’t want to discuss it yet.

And he insisted his tweet about a sentencing recommendation for Stone was not political interference. 

1:31 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Mitt Romney on Stone case: Any political interference "would obviously be a real problem"

From CNN's Manu Raju

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote to convict President Trump in his impeachment trial, was muted in his view about the Roger Stone case, saying if there's "any indication" that the Justice Department is not independent of politics — that "would obviously be a real problem."

He said he doesn't think a Republican investigation into the matter would "change a lot."

More on Romney: The Utah Republican voted to convict the President on the abuse of power charge brought by the House in the impeachment trial, making him the only Republican senator to vote to convict on one of the two articles of impeachment. He voted to acquit on the second article, obstruction of Congress.

1:04 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Top Senate Republican: "It's always best to allow the legal system in this country to work the way it was intended"

From CNN's Ted Barrett

Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking member of the Senate GOP leadership, said Wednesday it would be best for the President not to meddle into matters at the Department of Justice, such as the sentencing recommendations of Roger Stone. 

“My view is that these legal proceedings are best left to the system of justice in this country to be resolved. And I would hope in the end that that will happen,” Thune said in response to questions about the controversy. 

The South Dakota Republican also said it was “unfortunate people resigned” and “you want to let the legal process move forward the way it was intended to.”

12:43 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Susan Collins says Trump shouldn't have weighed in on the Stone case

From CNN's Manu Raju

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said today President Trump "should not have gotten involved” in the Roger Stone case.

What's this about: The President tweeted this week that the recommendation of seven to nine years in prison for Stone, a former associate of Trump, was "unfair." The Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that it was revising its recommendation for Stone to "far less" prison time. Trump denied any involvement in the sentencing revision.

12:34 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski criticizes Trump for getting involved in the Stone sentencing

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, criticized President Trump and the Justice Department for getting involved in the Roger Stone sentencing.

"I don't like this chain of events," she said. "The President weighs in, all of a sudden, Justice comes back and says change the deal. I think most people in America would look at that and say, 'Hmm, that just doesn't look right.' And I think they're right."

Murkowski did not say what should be done in response.

12:30 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Lindsey Graham says Stone sentencing recommendation "doesn't have anything to do" with Trump

From CNN's Ali Zaslav 

Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham told reporters that the Department of Justice's change in sentencing recommendation is not about President Trump or his tweets. He also said he was briefed about it this morning by the DOJ.

“Should the President stay out of cases? Yeah, absolutely,” Graham told reporters on his way to votes this morning

“If I thought he’d done something that’d change the outcome inappropriately, I’d be the first to say. Apparently in this case…. It makes sense," he added.

On Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris’ call for Attorney General William Barr to testify, Graham said Barr will come before Judiciary committee “sooner rather than later” on oversight. He suggested Harris or others can ask questions about the Stone sentencing then.

12:27 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Democratic senator calls for Attorney General Bill Barr to resign

From CNN's Suzanne Malveaux and Josh Replogle

Sen. Richard Blumenthal speaks to reporters at the US Capitol, January 29.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal speaks to reporters at the US Capitol, January 29. Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for Attorney General William Barr to resign after top leadership at the Department of Justice stepped in to reduce a sentence recommendation of long-time Trump ally Roger Stone.

“This brazen assault on the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice is unprecedented. As a former federal prosecutor for the United States attorney for Connecticut, I have never seen anything like it. Now is the time for William Barr to resign,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal went on to call Barr one of Trump’s “henchmen,” and a “political operative” who should face an investigation not only by the Judiciary Committee, but also by office of the Inspector General.

Blumenthal acknowledged he was no fan of Barr from the beginning.

“I thought William Barr was unfit for this office. I voted against him. He is proving more unfit than I could’ve imagined," he said.

12:03 p.m. ET, February 12, 2020

Vulnerable Republican senator avoids questions about Stone

From CNN's Manu Raju 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a vulnerable Republican up for reelection in 2020, avoided questions from CNN today about Roger Stone.

"I'm sorry ... miss my vote," Gardner responded when asked if he is concerned about political interference.

Gardner walked away and didn't respond to a follow up question asking if he's concerned about Roger Stone.

11:41 a.m. ET, February 12, 2020

GOP senators downplay Stone sentencing request: "I don't see anything to investigate"

From CNN's Clare Foran

Sen. Chuck Grassley is seen on Capitol Hill, February 3.
Sen. Chuck Grassley is seen on Capitol Hill, February 3. Susan Walsh/AP

Republican senators were asked today if the Judiciary Committee should hold hearings on the Department of Justice's decision to recommend a sentencing reduction for President Trump's confidant Roger Stone.

Here's how they responded:

  • Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley: “I think the judge is going to take care of all that and nobody is going to question the judge’s decision.”  
  • Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy: “I don’t think there’s anything to come before. (Chuck) Schumer’s always going to call for emergency hearings. Chuck’s like a teenager, he’s mad at everybody, especially the President.” He continued: “I don’t see anything to investigate unless you have facts that I don’t.”