TRUMP: “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?" — tweet Tuesday.
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? 13 Angry Democrats?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
THE FACTS: He's incorrect on several fronts.
Four lawyers who prosecuted Stone did quit the case after Justice Department leaders took the extraordinary step of reducing their recommended sentence. Only two, however, were members of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia team.
There was nothing secret about the proposed sentence for Stone that was purportedly “exposed," as Trump asserts. Each of the four attorneys had signed onto a public court filing last week that recommended seven to nine years in prison for Stone. The Trump adviser was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
Nor was the Russia probe illegally started. Multiple court rulings upheld Mueller's appointment as special counsel.
While a Justice Department inspector general's report in December found “serious performance failures" in the FBI's Russia investigation, it said the FBI was justified in opening the probe. The report also did not find evidence that the bureau had acted with political bias, a conclusion at odds with Trump's frequent insistence that he's the victim of a “scam” and witch hunt.
TRUMP, citing a quote by Attorney General William Barr: “'The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.' A.G. Barr 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!" — tweet Friday.
“The President has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.” A.G. Barr 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2020
THE FACTS: As president, Trump technically has the right to compel the Justice Department, an executive branch agency, to open investigations. But historically, when it comes to decisions on criminal investigations and prosecutions, the Justice Department has functioned independently, unmoved and unbound by political sway.
Barr made that sentiment clear last week, telling ABC News that Trump's tweets undermine the department's perception as independent.
“To have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people ... about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity," Barr said.
Barr was directly asked in the ABC interview whether he believed Trump had the authority to direct him to open an investigation.
In many cases yes, such as “terrorism or fraud by a bank or something like that,” he said. However, “If he were to say, you know, go investigate somebody because — and you sense it’s because they’re a political opponent, then an attorney general shouldn’t carry that out, wouldn’t carry that out.”