President Donald Trump has shown no signs of contrition over his impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—and his acquittal last week has left him feeling untouchable, according to White House aides.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday the president has been emboldened in attacking his critics and defending his allies, even those who—like Roger Stone—have been convicted of multiple felonies.
The Post cited unnamed advisers and allies who said the president is reaching “the point of feeling untouchable,” backed by an acquiescent Republican Party and his loyal voter base. Reports have also suggested Trump has drawn up an “enemies list” of those who crossed him during the impeachment fight.
One former senior administration official said that aides have tried to rein in the president’s most antagonistic instincts, only to be told: “I have a right to say whatever I want.”
The official added, “He knows exactly what he’s doing… He knows that he has more power than anyone else in the government—and when he tweets, everyone has to listen to him.”
This week, Trump came under fire for interfering in the sentencing of former aide and longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, who was convicted of multiple felonies as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Federal prosecutors filed a sentencing memo Monday arguing Stone should be jailed for seven to nine years, prompting Trump to dismiss the proposal as “horrible” and a “miscarriage of justice.”
The Department of Justice then said it would reduce the length of the requested sentence, soon after which the four prosecutors involved resigned in protest.
Trump praised Attorney General Bill Barr for walking back the sentencing memo, and also attacked presiding judge Judge Amy Berman—who also jailed former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort—and called for several of his critics to be jailed for unproven crimes.
Former campaign chair Steve Bannon told the Post that the president “is mad and he should be mad.”
Bannon—who left the White House under a cloud in 2017 but has remained a supporter of Trump and his brand of nationalist politics—added: “Now he understands how to use the full powers of the presidency. The pearl-clutchers better get used to it.”
Democratic lawmakers have called for an investigation into Trump’s influence in the Stone sentencing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter Wednesday that the president “engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone,” describing the DOJ’s apparent acquiescence as “outrageous” and warning the decision has “deeply damaged the rule of law.”
On Tuesday, the president denied that he had asked the DOJ to reduce the proposed sentence for Stone. However, he also told reporters that he had “the absolute right to do it” if he wanted to.