Trump calls for Roger Stone's conviction to be thrown out

Miranda Bryant, Joan E Greve and agencies
Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump has called for his longtime ally Roger Stone’s recent conviction for witness tampering and lying to Congress to be thrown out.

Trump’s barrage of Tuesday morning tweets came days after his own attorney general, William Barr, sparked a furore over his apparent intervention in the case.

“Everything having to do with this fraudulent investigation is badly tainted and, in my opinion, should be thrown out,” one of Trump’s tweets said.

Trump tweeted the Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano’s comment that the jury appears to have been biased against Trump. He called out Judge Amy Berman Jackson by name, saying almost any judge in the country would throw out the conviction.

The president also on Tuesday made the eye-popping, and false, claim that he is “the chief law enforcement officer of the United States”. Many were quick to point out that Barr is in fact the chief law enforcement officer of the US government. Trump made the remarks at a military base in Maryland, in response to reporters’ questions on the Stone case and Barr’s recent rebuke that Trump’s tweets “make it impossible to do my job”.

“The attorney general is a man with incredible integrity,” Trump said, but he refused to rule out the possibility of weighing in on Stone’s case. “Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved. I’m allowed to be totally involved. I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Trump said he was not considering pardoning Stone but complained that his former associate was being treated “very unfairly”.

Stone was convicted in November of a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

Prosecutors had recommended a tough sentence of between seven to nine years in federal prison, but Barr reversed that decision and recommended a less harsh punishment, prompting the entire prosecution team to resign from the case.

Eric Holder, US attorney general under Barack Obama, said in a statement at the time that the conduct over Stone had “put at risk the perceived – and real – neutral enforcement of our laws and, ultimately, endanger the fabric of our democracy”.

Barr later denied that Trump’s Twitter denunciation of the sentencing recommendation had influenced his decision; in an interview with ABC News, Barr said he had not been asked by Trump to look into the case.

But the highly unusual intervention has prompted widespread outrage. More than 2,000 former justice department employees have signed an open letter calling for Barr’s resignation and expressing support of the four prosecutors.

Jackson said Stone’s sentencing would take place on Thursday, as planned.

There had been questions raised about a potential delay in sentencing, as Stone’s lawyers push for a new trial due to the allegations of anti-Trump bias of one of the jurors.

However, Jackson said the sentencing should occur as scheduled, while noting that its implementation may be delayed because of concerns raised by Stone’s team.

Stone, 67, is the sixth former Trump aide to be convicted in cases prompted by Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Related: Roger Stone: prosecutors quit after DoJ signals plan to reduce sentence

In their court filing last Monday, the prosecutors had argued that Stone – who was found guilty in November of seven crimes including obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress – has shown “contempt for this court and the rule of law”.

But the following day Trump claimed in a tweet: “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Hours later, on Tuesday afternoon, a new court filing was released, proposing that the sentence guidelines for Stone be cut.

Defense attorneys for Stone last week filed a second motion for a new trial. The first was rejected by Jackson last year.

Associated Press contributed to this report