President Trump on Monday sounded off on the Russia investigation, suggesting his former personal attorney Michael Cohen should not receive leniency for cooperating with the probe and declaring that former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone had “guts” for refusing to testify against him.
“‘I will never testify against Trump,’” the president wrote on Twitter. “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’”
Some legal experts quickly suggested Trump’s tweet could be used as evidence of obstruction. George Conway, a lawyer and the husband of Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted a reference to two U.S. laws that prohibit “influencing” or “tampering with a witness” in a criminal case.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” Sunday, Stone said there was “no circumstance under which I would testify against the president.”
“I’d have to bear false witness against him,” Stone said. “I’d have to make things up, and I’m not going to do that.”
Stone added that he has never discussed a pardon with Trump.
Last week, Trump told the New York Post that he would consider a pardon for Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, whose plea deal with Mueller was rescinded after prosecutors said he lied to federal agents and government lawyers during interviews.
On Thursday, Cohen struck a deal with Mueller, pleading guilty to making false statements to Congress in testimony about contacts he had with Russia in the course of trying to arrange a real-estate deal during the 2016 presidential campaign.
CNN reported on Friday that Cohen had been “under the impression that, after the FBI raid on his home and offices in April, Trump would pardon him in exchange for his support.”
Later Friday, lawyers for Cohen asked a U.S. judge that their client receive no prison time in two separate cases because of his cooperation in Mueller’s Russia investigation and the New York state attorney general’s office in its ongoing civil lawsuit against the Trump Foundation. Cohen, who is due to be sentenced Dec. 12, faces up to 62 months in prison after pleading guilty to tax and fraud charges related to his personal business dealings, and to campaign finance violations stemming from his role in arranging payments to women who claimed they had relationships with Trump.
“You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term?” Trump said this morning in a sequence of two tweets. “He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott [sic] Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.”
Related fact check: Trump’s mangled truths on Russia probe, Cohen
Speaking to reporters last week shortly after Cohen reached his plea deal with Mueller, Trump called his former fixer “a weak person.”
“Unlike other people you watch,” Trump said, all Cohen is “trying to do is get a reduced sentence, so he’s lying.”
Trump has repeatedly referred to Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” claiming without evidence that Mueller, who is a Republican, is politically motivated to attack the president. He returned to that refrain on Twitter Monday.
“Bob Mueller (who is a much different man than people think) and his out of control band of Angry Democrats, don’t want the truth, they only want lies,” the president tweeted. “The truth is very bad for their mission!”
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