Trump declines to rule out pardon for Roger Stone

"I don't want to say yet," Trump said when asked by reporters whether a pardon was on the table.

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By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declined Wednesday to say whether he was considering a pardon for his longtime confidant Roger Stone, leaving the possibility open just a day after the Justice Department announced that it would reduce Stone's recommended sentence.

"I don't want to say yet," Trump told reporters when asked during an event in the Oval Office whether he was considering pardoning Stone.

"People were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people," Trump continued. "I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing."

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it was reducing its recommended seven- to nine-year sentence for Stone hours after Trump complained about it on Twitter. The department's move prompted all four prosecutors on the case to abruptly resign from the proceedings.

"I'm not concerned about anything, concerned about nothing," Trump said when asked whether he found the prosecutors' departures troubling. "They ought to go back to school and learn. Because I'll tell you, the way they treated people, nobody should be treated like that."

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Congressional Democrats on Wednesday called for an emergency hearing and investigation into the Justice Department's actions. The House Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify in March and that members plan to ask him about Stone's case.

Trump denied that his tweets criticizing Stone's recommended sentence amounted to interference with the case, telling reporters that Stone "was treated very badly" and that the initial sentencing recommendation was a "disgrace."

"Frankly, they ought to apologize to him," Trump said.

Trump also briefly discussed his impeachment at Wednesday's event. When asked what lessons he had learned, he attacked Democrats.

He said he had learned "that the Democrats are crooked, that they're vicious, that they shouldn't have brought impeachment."