‘Preposterous’: CNN’s Andrew McCabe Scoffs at Claim Trump’s Tweets Didn’t Influence DOJ Reversal on Roger Stone
Former FBI Deputy Director and CNN contributor Andrew McCabe scoffed at the claim that President Donald Trump’s public outrage didn’t influence the DOJs abrupt decision to request a lighter sentence for longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone.
McCabe, speaking with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, summarily dismissed an anonymous DOJ official’s claim that it was an “inconvenient coincidence” that federal prosecutors reversed their sentencing request on Tuesday, just hours after the president blasted the seven to nine-year sentence recommendation as “disgraceful” and a “miscarriage of justice” in a middle-of-the-night Twitter rant. The unexpected flip-flop prompted an unprecedented public protest from within the DOJ, as all four of the career prosecutors on Stone’s case withdrew their names and one attorney, Aaron Zelinsky, even resigned from the Justice Department.
NEW: A senior DOJ official this evening said “it does appear” the withdrawals of the prosecutors in the Stone case were in protest to DOJ’s reversal. The official continued to insist the president’s tweet played no role in the reversal, calling it an “inconvenient coincidence.”
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) February 11, 2020
“I have never seen anything like this before. Have you ever seen anything like this?” Cuomo asked McCabe to kick off the segment.
“Absolutely not,” McCabe stated firmly. “It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to disagree about a sentencing recommendation, for prosecutors and [FBI] agents to debate things vigorously, but at the end of the day we walk forward in agreement with what gets presented to the court.”
“What is the chance, as a former boss, that the bosses didn’t not know whatthese prosecutors, who were directly on the case, were going to recommend against Roger Stone in terms of a penalty?” Cuomo followed up.
“So something had to change. Other than their own reckoning of whether or not tfts it was a fair call?” Cuomo asked.
“That’s absolutely right,” McCabe affirmed. “The reporting I read today indicated there was a vigorous debate within the DC U.S. Attorney’s office about where in the range, that’s called for in the sentencing, where the recommendation would come out. The prosecutors were advocating for the higher end of the range, which is standard in a case in which the defendant has gone to trial and lost. That typically results in a recommendation at the higher end of the range. The new U.S. Attorney in D.C. [Aaron Zelinksy] took some time thinking about it, but agreed with it and that’s how the first filing was submitted.”
McCabe went to explain the senior DOJ officials routinely defer to the line prosecutors who handled the case at trial when it comes to sentencing and that political appointees, in particular, avoid weighing in on key decisions like sentencing. But a NBC News story on Tuesday reported that Attorney General Bill Barr has begun to personally intervene in cases that are of interest to the president, among them Stone’s and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s.
“Doesn’t it have to be — we try to be careful,” Cuomo continued. “We don’t know for a fact that the president called Barr and said ‘Fix this.’ How else would it happen? He’s saying he should be pardoned. First of all the president is the one doing the pardoning. If you want to parson somebody, do it. This is your longest[-serving] adviser, you believe that this [sentence] was wrong, pardon him, that’s a decision for him to make. How does it happen if he doesn’t call and apply pressure?”
“It’s preposterous to think that the president’s own public statements had no impact on the departments reversal of the position on the recommendation. “This something we have seen it before, very personally in my own situation,” said McCabe, a frequent target of Trump’s who was fired from the FBI in 2018 and could still face criminal charges for leaking information to the press during the 2016 presidential campaign. “The president indicates on Twitter for the world to see exactly what he he wants done and the department lines up and executes the vision. We have seen it before.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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