After the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought a shorter prison sentence for Roger Stone, Congressional Democrats called for investigations into whether President Donald Trump improperly pressured the department to seek a lighter sentence for a political ally.
When he was asked in an interview on CNN on Wednesday if Democrats would open an impeachment inquiry into Trump regarding this incident, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said that idea isn’t “off the table.”
“We’re not going to take our options off the table,” Swalwell said, adding, “We are not going to let him just torch this democracy because he thinks that he’s been let off once and we’re not going to do something about it.”
Watch the interview below:
"We are not going to let him just torch this democracy because he thinks that he’s been let off once and we’re not going to do something about it."@EricSwalwell says impeaching @realDonaldTrump over the Roger Stone case isn't "off the table." pic.twitter.com/i8HzNhu44b— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) February 13, 2020
Additionally, Swalwell suggested that there may not be direct evidence that Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to intervene in the case. Instead, Swalwell said that Trump uses “mob-like ways” to communicate to subordinates what he wants them to do.
“I think by tweeting out that, Attorney General Barr got the message,” Swalwell said of a tweet Trump sent out calling the requested sentencing a “horrible and very unfair situation.”
That tweet came after prosecutors asked Judge Amy Berman-Jackson to give Stone seven to nine years in prison for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
After that tweet, the Justice Department called the sentencing “extreme and unwarranted” and recommended a lighter sentence for Stone.
Additionally, the four prosecutors that brought the case and won the conviction resigned after the Justice Department sought a lighter sentence.
Trump has denied that he spoke to officials at the DOJ to pressure them to seek a lighter sentence.
“I want to thank the Justice Department — and I didn’t speak to them, by the way — they saw a nine-year sentence… nine years for something nobody can even define what he did,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
Justice Department officials also denied that the move to seek a lighter sentence was the result of pressure from Trump. Instead, they called the tweet an “inconvenient coincidence.”
Additionally, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said the department was already considering seeking a shorter sentence before Trump tweeted his outrage at the requested prison sentencing.
Fox News reported that DOJ officials said communications with prosecutors, prior to the filing, led them to believe that they would request a lighter sentencing for Stone and were caught off guard by the severity of the filing.
Stone, a former 2016 Trump campaign aide, was convicted on charges that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.