Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer called on Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Thursday to speak out against President Trump’s attacks on the federal judiciary in the controversy over former Trump ally Roger Stone.
The New York Democrat said Mr. Trump has fired key witnesses in the impeachment process and interfered with the sentencing of Stone, who helped with the president’s 2016 campaign. He said the president has expressed criticism of the judge who is overseeing Stone’s punishment.
Justice Roberts has spoken out in the past against Mr. Trump’s characterization of judges based on the president who appointed them.
“When the president during his campaign attacked Judge Curiel, the chief justice released a statement saying: “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. The independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for,’” said Mr. Schumer, quoting the justice’s statement issued in late 2018, on the chamber floor.
Mr. Schumer said the president is once again attacking a federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee.
“The nation now looks again to Chief Justice Roberts to make clear to President Trump that these attacks are unacceptable,” Mr. Schumer said. “Speaking of the independence of the judiciary in broad and general terms is well and good, it’s a good thing to do. But to not speak up now, when in the middle of this brouhaha, a judge is being attacked by the president before she makes a sentencing decision? That’s when we really need the chief justice to speak up.”
Mr. Trump was vocal this week in his opposition to prosecutors issuing a recommendation of seven to nine years in prison for Stone, arguing it was too unfair.
Judge Jackson will be the one to hand down Stone’s punishment.
“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!” the president tweeted earlier this week.
Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice when he impeded Congress’ investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Top Justice Department officials reversed course in a court filing, requesting a shorter prison sentence and calling the original recommendation “excessive and unwarranted.”
The reversal has drawn criticism from Democrats, who say the president is acting inappropriately, suggesting he’s intervened in the adjudication of justice.
• Jeff Mordock contributed to this story.
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