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Actress Patricia Heaton slams Dems’ ‘barbaric platform’ on abortion

Actress Patricia Heaton has denounced the Democratic Party’s platform for including what she called a “barbaric” position on abortion.

“I don’t understand why pro-life people want to know if they are ‘welcome’ to join the democrat party [sic],” the “Everybody Loves Raymond” co-star tweeted Wednesday. “Why would any civilized person want to support a barbaric platform that champions abortion for any reason through all nine months funded by taxpayers?”

KRISTEN DAY: BUTTIGIEG AND 2020 HOPEFULS, DON’T CANCEL 21 MILLION PRO-LIFE DEMS IF YOU WANT TO BEAT TRUMP

The issue has resurfaced in recent weeks after Kristen Day, who leads Democrats for Life, asked former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg about whether the party included room for her. During a Jan. 26 Fox News town hall with Buttigieg, Day specifically took issue with the language in the party’s platform.

“The Democratic platform contains language that basically says, ‘We don’t belong, we have no part in the party because it says abortion should be legal up to nine months, the government should pay for it,'” Day told Buttigieg, who supported his party’s position.

Pro-life leaders also blasted former Buttigieg after he seemed to back away from answering whether he supported infanticide.

“I just know that I trust her and her decision medically or morally isn’t going to be any better because the government is commanding her to do it in a certain way.” he told “The View” co-host Meghan McCain.

PETE BUTTIGIEG FACES BACKLASH FROM PRO-LIFE WOMEN AFTER INFANTICIDE ANSWER: ‘YOU’RE EXTREMELY RADICAL’

Live Action Founder Lila Rose interpreted Buttigieg’s answer as a pass for partial-birth abortion.

“He said as long as a mother wants to abort a baby, at any age, she should be able to [e]ven if that means partially delivering a full-grown, 7 lb infant, who can recognize her mother’s voice, & then stabbing her neck & suctioning out her brain,” she tweeted. Second trimester surgical abortions also involve dismembering a fetus and crushing its skull.

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The Democratic platform reiterates the party’s interest in protecting abortion access but doesn’t specify any time periods for potential restrictions.

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” it reads.

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., another 2020 candidate, indicated on Tuesday that she wanted to build a “big tent” for pro-life Democrats like Day.

In a comment to Fox News, Day responded: “We are appreciative of her acknowledgment, but we do need to talk more specifically about the platform language, litmus test currently being applied against pro-life Democrats and the stranglehold by the abortion lobby.”

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Rep. Cunningham blasts Sanders: ‘South Carolinians don’t want socialism’

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamLobbying world House Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week MORE (D-S.C.) said Wednesday he does not support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the New Hampshire primary Sanders on NH victory: Win is ‘beginning of the end for Donald Trump’ Buttigieg congratulates Sanders on ‘strong showing’ in New Hampshire MORE’s (I-Vt.) proposals that the congressman labeled as “socialism.” 

“South Carolinians don’t want socialism,” Cunningham said in a statement to The Post and Courier. 

“We want to know how you are going to get things done and how you are going to pay for them,” added Cunningham, a Democrat who flipped a seat in 2018 that was long held by Republicans. “Bernie’s proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I’d ever support.”

Sanders, who won Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary after a successful showing in the Iowa caucuses, has become the front-runner in the primary race. The Vermont senator has described himself as a democratic socialist. 

Asked if he would support Sanders if he wins the party nomination, Cunningham told the Post “Bernie Sanders will not be the nominee.” 

A spokesperson for the Sanders campaign was not immediately available for comment. 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWinners and losers from the New Hampshire primary Sanders on NH victory: Win is ‘beginning of the end for Donald Trump’ 5 takeaways from the New Hampshire primary MORE made similar comments to Cunningham over the weekend. Biden said that Sanders’s label as a democratic socialist would create a “bigger uphill climb” for down ballot candidates in more moderate districts. 

Cunningham told the Post he does not plan to make an endorsement ahead of the state’s Feb. 29 primary. The only other Democratic congressman from the state, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, has also not endorsed a candidate in the primary.

Biden is leading the field in South Carolina, the first nominating state with a significant African American  population, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls in the state. Biden has 31 percent support, followed by philanthropist Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerBiden, Warren on ropes after delegate shutout Webb: Race and the Democratic primaries Mellman: Debating Michael Bloomberg MORE at 18.5 percent. Sanders closely tails in third at 17 percent, based on the average.

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Bill Barr should either resign or face impeachment over the Roger Stone mess

Resign? He’s not going to resign.

He’s not going to be impeached. That was the point of Ed’s post earlier: Having gained little politically from the Ukraine saga, House Democrats are done focusing on Trump scandals before the election unless their hands are forced. Impeachment was a one-shot deal. You can impeach him for Ukraine or you can impeach him for emoluments or you can impeach him for the Stormy Daniels thing or you can impeach him for the corrupt pardons he’ll issue soon enough to his cronies or you can impeach him for half a dozen other things that’ll happen between now and the election, but you have to choose. Democrats chose. A second impeachment, even of a different official, will look farcical to Americans who were never better than 50/50 on the Ukraine matter, no matter how strong the grounds may be this time. “Is this all Democrats do anymore? Impeach people?”

But just because they can’t impeach Barr doesn’t mean they shouldn’t investigate the curious case of the revised sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone. What happened yesterday stinks on ice, and lord knows the Trump glee club in the Senate isn’t going to look into it. Why would they investigation allegations of corruption by the president and his AG when the evidence might reveal corruption by the president and his AG? So, as usual, it’s a House probe or nothing — the sooner the better, since no doubt “absolute immunity” will once again be asserted as a reason not to produce evidence and that won’t be resolved without a long court fight.

She also went on to say this:

“Elect me and I’ll sic the DOJ on Trump”? Not an obvious position for someone who professes to be troubled by politicization of the Justice Department.

Anyway, there was some mystery late yesterday as to who among the DOJ leadership had insisted on reducing the Department’s sentencing recommendation for Stone. There’s less mystery about it today:

Prosecutors on the case reportedly wanted a stiff sentence due to the fact that Stone had threatened witness Randy Credico before Credico testified against him. Supervisors at the DOJ wanted something lighter, seemingly because it was unclear if Stone really meant Credico harm or if he was just shooting off his mouth. Even Credico said he didn’t take Stone’s threats seriously. How that dispute was resolved and even whether it was resolved before the initial sentencing recommendation was filed in court is uncertain at this point; a DOJ source told Fox News that higher-ups at the Department were actively misled by the prosecutors into believing that they’d seek a lighter sentence than they ended up seeking, but that’s hard to believe. (The prosecutors reportedly found out about the revised sentence recommendation via Fox News, not from their own bosses, a leak that makes this smell even more political.) What outside lawyers who are watching this play out seem to agree on is this: (1) The seven-to-nine-year sentence that was initially sought really was surprisingly high given that Stone’s threats seemed like mere bluster, but (2) even so, it’s reeeeeeeeeally unusual for the DOJ to step in and demand that front-line prosecutors change their recommendation after it’s been filed. Harry Litman, a former U.S. Attorney, was amazed:

I have never experienced or even heard of a situation in which a career prosecutor had been ordered to withdraw a sentencing memorandum within the guidelines’ range. The original filing in the Stone case came from two career federal prosecutors and two special assistant U.S. attorneys. This rebuke has to be maddening for them.

Another former U.S. Attorney told NBC, “I’ve never seen this happen, ever… I’d be shocked if the judge didn’t order the U.S. attorney to come into court to explain it.” Typically prosecutors leave it to the defense and the judge to justify leniency for the defendant: The state asks for hard time in its sentencing recommendation and expects something more reasonable from the court. Not this time. For some reason, in a case that just happened to involve a presidential crony whose recommended sentence had upset the president publicly, the DOJ decided to submit a de facto defense filing by alleging that its initial recommendation had been excessive. That smells like a special political favor done for a well-connected — and already convicted — defendant. Swampy as hell.

It’s not the only time the DOJ has done it lately either:

Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government’s sentencing recommendation for Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While the prosecutors had once recommended up to six months in jail, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate…

On Jan. 7, after Flynn moved to withdraw his guilty plea, prosecutors in the case recommended a sentence that included possible jail time. Their original recommendation was probation, given that Flynn had cooperated in Mueller’s Russia investigation.

But, people familiar with the matter said, senior Justice Department officials pressured prosecutors to reverse course. On Jan. 29, the government filed a new document with the court saying a sentence of probation was “reasonable.”

That makes two presidential cronies who’ve received an unusual, and unusually favorable, revised sentence recommendation courtesy of Bill Barr’s DOJ. I’m curious to know how many defendants in the federal system not personally connected to the president have received the same sort of compassion lately from a Department headed by a guy who’s not otherwise known to be soft on crime.

But there’s more. The U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. that prosecuted Flynn and Stone used to be headed by Jessie Liu. Liu was recently nominated by Trump to be an undersecretary at the Treasury Department. Her confirmation hearing before a Senate committee was scheduled for tomorrow. Last night, for no apparent reason, it was announced that Trump was pulling the nomination. Could it be a coincidence that the lawyer who’d overseen the Flynn and Stone cases was suddenly being hushed up before Senate Dems had a chance to grill her about the shenanigans in the Stone matter? Nope, according to CNN:

While head of the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, Liu inherited many of the major ongoing cases from Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and was also handling the politically charged case of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of Trump’s ire who is also a CNN contributor.

As Trump and administration officials weighed pulling Liu’s nomination to serve as the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes, a central factor in the talks was how she had run the US Attorney’s Office. The problem wasn’t that she necessarily did anything wrong, one person familiar with the thinking said, but that she didn’t do more to get involved in those cases.

That sounds a lot like “she didn’t intervene to make sure the president’s cronies got sweetheart deals.” Axios reported yesterday that Liu was expected initially to remain as U.S. Attorney in D.C. until she was confirmed for the Treasury job, but she was unexpectedly yanked from her position by Barr two weeks ago and replaced on an interim basis by one of Barr’s close advisors, Timothy Shea. As chance would have it, the new recommendation for a more lenient sentence for Mike Flynn was filed on January 29, the same day that Liu was removed from her position.

In other words, to all appearances, Barr wanted leniency for Trump’s cronies and recognized that Liu might be a political obstacle to that. So he pushed her out while her confirmation was pending, installed a loyalist, and then set about undoing the months of work on sentencing that front-line prosecutors in both the Flynn and Stone cases had done. And then, with Liu about to open her mouth under oath before the Senate and answer questions about political pressures from above on the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office, Trump hushed her up by withdrawing her nomination. Presumably, if Congress wants to talk to her now, they’ll have to litigate past an “absolute immunity” claim too.

No time like the present to get started. Issue that subpoena today. In the meantime, Barr is tentatively scheduled to testify before the House — seven weeks from now. Can they wait that long to hear from him? Stay tuned. Exit quotation from Susan Collins, who’ll be answering for stuff like this until the polls close day on Election Day:

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Barr agrees to testify to Congress amid growing outrage over Roger Stone case | US news

William Barr, the US attorney general, has agreed to testify before a congressional committee over alleged political interference at the justice department, Democrats said, as they warned of “a crisis in the rule of law in America”.

Washington is reeling from aftershocks of the department’s unusual decision to overrule career prosecutors and seek a lighter prison sentence for the political operative Roger Stone, a longtime friend of the US president. The entire prosecution team resigned in protest.

On Wednesday, Democrats on the House judiciary committee wrote to Barr confirming that he had agreed to testify at a hearing on 31 March. Chairman Jerrold Nadler wrote in the letter that the attorney general should expect to be asked about recent steps that “raise grave questions” over his leadership of the justice department.

These include, Nadler said, “the decision to overrule your career prosecutors and significantly reduce the recommended sentence for Roger Stone, who has been convicted for lying under oath, at the apparent request of the president – a decision that led to all four prosecutors handling the case to withdraw from the proceedings in protest”.

Stone, 67, a political operative and self-described dirty trickster, was convicted last November of lying to Congress, witness tampering and impeding the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. On Monday, prosecutors requested that he serve seven to nine years behind bars. But Trump issued a late-night objection via Twitter, stating: “Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Hours later, a new memo from the justice department cut the proposed sentence, offering Stone’s “advanced age, health, personal circumstances and lack of criminal history” as mitigating circumstances. Media reports suggested Barr had personally intervened.

All four lawyers that prosecuted Stone abruptly quit the case, with one leaving the justice department altogether. On Wednesday, the White House insisted that Trump had not meddled, but on Twitter the president brazenly praised Barr for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought”.

Later, speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump thanked justice department officials for trimming the sentencing recommendation. He declined to say whether he would pardon Stone. “They treated Roger Stone very badly,” he said.

But Chuck Schumer, the Democrat minority leader in the Senate, sounded the alarm about an unprecedented threat to the independence of the legal system.








‘Trump is using the powers of the presidency like a tyrant,’ Hillary Clinton said. Photograph: Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Refinery29

“We are witnessing a crisis in the rule of law in America – unlike one we have ever seen before,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It is a crisis of President Trump’s making. But it was enabled and emboldened by every Senate Republican who was too afraid to stand up to him and say the simple word ‘no’, when the vast majority of them knew that that was the right thing to do.”

Trump was acquitted by the Republican majority in the Senate in his impeachment trial last week and immediately began a purge of officials who testified about his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival – fuelling Democrats’ fears that he would feel further emboldened, unleashed and able to act with impunity.

Two days after his acquittal, Schumer noted, Trump retaliated by firing members of his administration who testified in the impeachment inquiry, including Lt Col Alexander Vindman and Ambassador Gordon Sondland. He even dismissed Vindman’s brother. “How vindictive, how petty, how nasty,” Schumer said.

On Tuesday Trump withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu, a former US attorney in Washington whose office prosecuted Stone, for a new post in the treasury department. But it was the Stone case that prompted Schumer to call for an emergency Senate judiciary committee hearing, where Barr would potentially be obliged to testify, and an investigation by the department’s inspector general, an external watchdog.

“The president is claiming that rigging the rules is perfectly legitimate – he claims an ‘absolute right’ to order the justice department to do anything he wants,” he said. “And the president has as his attorney general an enabler – and that’s a kind word – who actually supports this view.”

Schumer added: “We are seeing the behavior of a man who has contempt for the rule of law beginning to try out the new, unrestrained power conferred on him by 52 Republican senators … Left to his own devices, President Trump would turn America into a banana republic, where the dictator can do whatever he wants and the justice department is the president’s law firm, not a defender of the rule of law.”

The sentiments were echoed by Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state who was defeated by Trump in the 2016 presidential election. She tweeted: “Trump is using the powers of the presidency like a tyrant – now, to reward accomplices and go after witnesses who dared to speak against him. This should concern and anger us all.”

Eric Holder, who served as Barack Obama’s attorney general, wrote on Twitter: “Do not underestimate the danger of this situation. This affects the rule of law and respect for it. Unprecedented.”

Yet most Senate Republicans, all but one of whom voted in Trump’s favour in the impeachment trial, again held the line. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina told reporters: “I’m not disturbed about it at all. If you read the reports, this action began on Monday night before the president’s tweets, so I’ve got to take them at their word.”

However, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who had claimed Trump would learn his “lesson” from impeachment, struck a note of dissent. “The president should not have gotten involved,” she told the Reuters news agency.

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced by the US district judge Amy Berman Jackson on 20 February. Barr last year cleared the president of obstruction of justice even when the special counsel Robert Mueller had pointedly declined to do so after the Russia investigation.

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Roger Stone Deserves a Lighter Sentence, but Not Because He Is Trump’s Buddy – Reason.com

This week President Donald Trump and his appointees at the Justice Department intervened in the sentencing of Roger Stone, a longtime Trump crony who was convicted last November of obstructing a congressional investigation, lying to a congressional committee, and witness tampering. Yesterday, the day after four prosecutors assigned to the case recommended a sentence of seven to nine years, Timothy Shea, the interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, overrode them, suggesting “a sentence of incarceration far less” than the one originally proposed.

That reversal, which came after Trump called the original recommendation “horrible and very unfair,” is unseemly and smacks of legal favoritism. At the same time, a prison sentence of seven to nine years is disproportionate given the nature and consequences of Stone’s crimes.

The decision to recommend a more lenient sentence for Stone reportedly involved Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and officials in Attorney General William Barr’s office as well as Shea and his chief of staff. After Shea filed the amended sentencing memo, the four original prosecutors resigned from the case, apparently in protest, and one of them left the Justice Department altogether.

Not only is Stone a Trump pal, but his crimes were aimed at insulating the president from embarrassment and scandal related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The new sentencing recommendation therefore looks an awful lot like an attempt to tilt the scales of justice for personal and political reasons.

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump tweeted early yesterday morning in response to the original sentencing recommendation. “The real crimes were on the other side, [and] nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Later that day, Shea filed the amended sentencing memorandum. Although Justice Department officials insist they were not following the president’s orders, the coincidence is troubling. And while Trump has the legal authority to override prosecutorial decisions, such meddling compromises the Justice Department’s independence and creates the appearance that the president’s friends can expect special treatment when they break the law.

Having said all that, I still think there are sounds reasons to question the original sentencing recommendation. A prison sentence of seven to nine years is excessive for nonviolent process crimes aimed at concealing legal behavior.

Stone’s lies to the House Intelligence Committee and his dogged attempts to dissuade a potential witness from contradicting those lies were all related to the embarrassing emails that Russian hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, in 2016. Stone was excited about the potential political benefits of those emails, which WikiLeaks obtained and began to release in July 2016. Although his attempts to indirectly contact WikiLeaks about the emails were mostly fruitless, he presented himself to Trump campaign officials as a man with inside information, and they seemed to buy it.

There was nothing illegal about any of that. But it was still inconvenient for a president who rejects both the idea that Russia helped him win the election and the charge that his campaign welcomed the assistance. Stone, who testified voluntarily before the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017, also seemed to think he would make the president look bad if he avoided answering its questions about WikiLeaks and the purloined emails by invoking the Fifth Amendment’s protection against compelled self-incrimination. Instead he lied, repeatedly and flagrantly, about his contacts with people he thought could relay messages to WikiLeaks, about his communications with Trump campaign officials, and about the emails and text messages that documented those interactions.

Having lied, Stone repeatedly urged one of his WikiLeaks go-betweens, radio host Randy Credico, to back up his story or avoid testifying. When Credico received a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee, he invoked the Fifth Amendment, just as Stone had suggested. But he later cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election meddling and testified against Stone during his trial.

Stone did not stumble into his crimes or get into legal trouble due to a momentary lapse of judgment. As the prosecutors pointed out in the original sentencing memorandum, he “knew exactly what he was doing,” and he did it for more than a year, reaffirming in an unsolicited December 2018 letter to the House Intelligence Committee that everything in his testimony was true. Since he easily could have avoided prosecution by declining to testify or by telling the truth, Stone has no one to blame but himself for his current predicament.

But that does not mean a sentence of seven years or more is an appropriate punishment for Stone’s reckless mendacity. As Mueller’s report showed, there is no persuasive evidence that the Trump campaign’s hankering for useful dirt on Clinton ever crossed the line into an illegal conspiracy with a foreign government or any other sort of crime. When Stone lied, he was committing crimes, but he was not concealing any.

“Because of Stone’s conduct,” the original sentencing memo says, “the House
Intelligence Committee never received important documents, never heard from Credico (who pled the Fifth), and never heard from [Jerome] Corsi [another WikiLeaks intermediary]….The Committee’s report even wrongly stated that there was no evidence contradicting Stone’s claim that all his information about WikiLeaks was from publicly available sources.” Yet Stone’s overtures to WikiLeaks, which came out anyway, were neither consequential nor criminal.

The original memorandum also argues that Stone qualifies for a sentencing enhancement because his witness tampering included threats of violence. “I’m going to take that dog away from you,” he told Credico in an April 2018 email exchange about Stone’s congressional testimony, referring to Credico’s tiny Coton de Tulear. “Not a fucking thing you can do about it either, because you are a weak, broke, piece of shit.” Later that day, Stone added, “I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die, cocksucker.” Yet Credico himself said these comments were typical Stone bombast that he did not perceive as genuinely threatening. “I never in any way felt that Stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or my dog,” he testified.

The prosecutors also thought Stone deserved a sentencing enhancement for various public comments he made after he was indicted, some of which violated U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s orders. But as Shea notes in the amended sentencing memorandum, “it is unclear to what extent the defendant’s obstructive conduct actually prejudiced the government at trial.”

The second memorandum suggests that a sentence of seven to nine years is excessive for nonviolent crimes—a position that may surprise drug offenders serving prison terms that long or longer for peaceful transactions with consenting adults. The enhancements recommended by the first memorandum, Shea says, “more than double the defendant’s total offense level and, as a result, disproportionately escalate the defendant’s sentencing exposure to an offense level of 29, which typically applies in cases involving violent offenses, such as armed robbery, not obstruction cases.”

The new memorandum also suggests that Judge Jackson, who is scheduled to sentence Stone a week from tomorrow, “should consider the defendant’s advanced age [67], health, personal circumstances, and lack of criminal history in fashioning an appropriate sentence.” While “the defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration,” it says, “a sentence of between 87 [and] 108 months’ imprisonment…could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances.”

Regardless of its motivation, the revised memorandum is admirably measured and fair-minded, noting that prosecutors have a duty to pursue justice, not simply to clobber defendants with the heaviest penalties the law allows. It would substantially improve the quality of justice in this country if prosecutors more often took that approach with defendants who are not the president’s buddies.

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Democrats demand probe of Trump role in Stone case; Republicans unmoved

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in Congress on Wednesday brushed aside calls to investigate possible political interference at the U.S. Justice Department after the agency asked for a lighter prison term for President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone.

The Justice Department’s decision to back off its sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years for the Republican operative sent shock waves through Washington and prompted all four prosecutors to quit the case and one to quit the agency.

“There should be an investigation,” said House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress. Other Democrats accused Trump of purging the U.S. government of perceived enemies following his acquittal on impeachment charges last week.

They said they would question Attorney General William Barr about the matter when he testifies before Congress on March 31.

“You have taken steps that raise grave questions about your leadership of the Department of Justice,” Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Barr in a letter.

Republican lawmakers, who nearly all voted to acquit Trump of impeachment charges, offered muted criticism of the president but shrugged off suggestions they should investigate whether his political concerns were influencing law enforcement.

“I doubt that would do much,” said Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator to vote to remove Trump from office in the impeachment trial.

After the Justice Department decision, Trump on Wednesday praised Barr, his appointee to the law enforcement job, for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought.”

Speaking to reporters later at the White House, Trump thanked Justice Department officials for retracting the prison term recommendation. He declined to say whether he would pardon Stone. “They treated Roger Stone very badly,” he said.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would not call Barr to testify about the revised sentencing decision.

Stone, a self-proclaimed “dirty trickster,” was found guilty last year of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

After Trump criticized prosecutors who recommended the seven-to-nine-year prison term, the Justice Department asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to ignore that filing and impose whatever sentence she thought appropriate.

Justice Department officials and the White House said Trump did not influence that decision.

“While he has the right to have a conversation with the attorney general, he did not,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters.

FILE PHOTO: Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives for the continuation of his criminal trial on charges of lying to Congress, obstructing justice and witness tampering at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

TRUMP TARGETS JUDGE, PROSECUTORS

Trump targeted the judge and the outgoing prosecutors in other tweets, and retweeted a post that urged a full pardon for Stone as well as Michael Flynn, another former Trump adviser.

Stone is due to be sentenced on Feb. 20 after being found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering stemming from a government investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Stone and his lawyers have not spoken with Trump about the latest developments in his case, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The White House also on Tuesday dropped a top prosecutor who oversaw the Stone case, withdrawing the nomination for Jessie Liu to serve in the Treasury Department. Liu had been scheduled to appear publicly before the Senate on Thursday.

The White House declined to comment on Liu’s nomination or to say whether Trump would pardon Stone or Flynn.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Justice Department’s internal watchdog to investigate, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, said Barr should resign or face impeachment.

“Trump is going around getting even with people. Senate Republicans told us he was going to get better, and he didn’t,” Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown told reporters.

Slideshow (6 Images)

Several Republicans said Trump should not have shared his opinion about the Stone case.

“The president should not have gotten involved,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who said last week that she thought Trump would moderate his behavior after impeachment.

Others said they saw nothing wrong.

“I’m not disturbed about it at all,” Republican Senator Tim Scott told reporters.

Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Susan Cornwell, Alex Alper, Steve Holland and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Andy Sullivan, Alistair Bell and Howard Goller

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The MAGA Maverick: Is Trumpworld Turning On Matt Gaetz?

Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz has been one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies in Congress over the years, but some Trump allies appear to have turned on the firebrand congressman.

The relationship between Gaetz and the Trump White House appeared to fracture at the beginning of the year, after Gaetz was one of just three Republicans to vote in favor of a war powers resolution limiting the president’s authority to take action against Iran. The vote occurred shortly after Iran launched attacks on a U.S. base in Iraq, which followed the killing of notorious Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a targeted U.S. strike. A non-interventionist conservative, Gaetz supported Trump’s decision to take out Soleimani, but has been skeptical of further military action in Iran. (RELATED: How The Liberal Media Spent The Last Week Shilling For Iran)

The Washington Post reported last month that Gaetz’s decision to buck his party on the war powers resolution angered the president, who reportedly complained to his aides about Gaetz’s decision. A White House official told the Post that the administration was “disappointed” in the congressman. A pro-Trump political action committee (PAC) called Drain the DC Swamp PAC has been running Facebook advertisements attacking Gaetz over his war powers vote, targeting the congressman’s home state of Florida. (RELATED: Matt Gaetz On Transgender Bill: Trump Could Declare Himself First Female President)

The PAC’s biggest donor over the past year has been Tatnall Hillman, a reclusive conservative donor living in Aspen, Colorado. Hillman has donated $140,000 to the Drain the DC Swamp PAC over the past nine months, according to Open Secrets. Not much is known about Hillman’s political views other than that he has frequently donated to Republican candidates over the years.

The son of a billionaire coal and gas magnate, Hillman was ranked by the Aspen Times in 2014 as the state of Colorado’s third biggest political donor. That year, Hillman gave the maximum amount to Republican Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner, and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, both of whom won their elections that year. Another beneficiary of Hillman’s donations in recent years is former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, a supporter of regime change in Iran. Hillman donated $14,000 to Bolton’s Super PAC in 2016, and has frequently donated to the PAC in recent years. Over the past year, Hillman has opened up his checkbook to help the president’s re-election, donating to several pro-Trump PAC’s, including “America First Agenda” and “Black Americans To Re-Elect the President,” among others.

It’s not known if the White House sought retribution against Gaetz for his war powers vote, but the congressman was conspicuously absent from Trump’s impeachment defense team, while other Trump allies in the House, including Jim Jordan of Ohio and Lee Zeldin of New York were front and center defending the president. The congressman denied having been removed from Trump’s impeachment team early Tuesday morning, during a Twitter back and forth with New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman. (RELATED: The Tide Is Turning Against Democrats On Impeachment)

“I was never ‘ousted.’ During impeachment I spoke to the President regularly [almost daily],” Gaetz tweeted. “I reckon it’s easier for Maggie Haberman to deem a fictional ‘ouster’ concluded than to simply acknowledge that @jdawsey1’s reporting was exaggerated, poorly sourced or wrong.”

Even if this was some sort of punishment for Gaetz’ war powers vote, the congressman has not wavered in his support of the president, even telling Fox Business host Lou Dobbs last week that Utah Sen. Mitt Romney should be expelled from the Republican caucus over his support for impeachment. Trump, himself, doesn’t appear to be holding a grudge against the Gaetz either. Gaetz was in attendance during the president’s Monday night rally in New Hampshire, and received a special shoutout from the president during his speech. So, is all well between Trumpworld and Matt Gaetz?

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), pauses while speaking to members of the media on Capitol Hill on October 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

“A segment of the administration punished Gaetz for stepping out of line on a recent warpowers vote,” Curt Mills, a national security reporter at The American Conservative told the Daily Caller. “The effective punitive punishment that happened was him being taken off the impeachment team.”

But, even if certain officials inside the administration and within the donor class of the Republican Party have turned on Gaetz, his relationship with the president does not appear to have frayed long term.

“Gaetz doesn’t really care about his relationship with the administration writ large given that he has a direct line to the president,” Mills said, adding that he believes the president and his advisers are far apart on certain issues.

This isn’t the first time Gaetz has disagreed with the Trump administration on foreign policy. The congressman broke with the president on support for Saudi Arabia, and was one of just 18 Republican congressman to vote to cut off aid for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. The 37-year-old congressman is following an unusual path in his second term in congress, emphasizing his support for the president, but breaking with him on issues he feels are necessary. The career of Matt Gaetz will be fascinating to follow, and it’s just getting started.

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