Sen. John Kennedy: Roger Stone’s Status As a Chucklehead Is Not a Criminal Act

Melanie Arter | February 17, 2020 | 5:12pm EST
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(Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday that President Donald Trump has the right to tweet about a criminal case, but just because he can doesn’t mean he should.

When asked whether he agrees with President Donald Trump that he has the legal right to intervene in criminal cases, Kennedy said, “Does the president have a right to tweet about a case? Of course. Just because you can sing, though, doesn't mean you should sing. You can have a voice like Mick Jagger, but you wouldn't want to start belting out Honky Tonk Woman in church.


“This is a case where tweeting less would not cause brain damage. Look, Roger Stone is pretty good at bad decisions and nobody would confuse him with Alexander Hamilton. Bill Barr's Justice Department prosecuted him and convicted him,” the senator said.

“While the attorney general and others were trying to get the Senate's recommendations straight, the President tweeted, put the attorney general in an awkward spot and he spoke out,” Kennedy said.

When asked whether Trump’s interference ends at tweets, Kennedy said he has no indication that it doesn’t.

“And Bill Barr has said categorically and unequivocally that the president has never tried to influence him in a criminal case, nor should he. Look, this is my experience with Bill Barr. He's mature. He's serious. He exercises power fairly and intelligently. He's cursed with a rational mind and he's tough as a boot. And he has given the president his advice, his best advice, and I hope that President Trump will accept it,” he said.

“You said that you take the attorney general at his word that he was already going to intervene in this case prior to the president's public tweet about Roger Stone, but is it a good idea for him to get personally involved in such a politically charged case?” host Margaret Brennan asked.

“This is the way the process works at Justice, particularly when a public figure is involved. There are checks and balances, and there are multiple layers of supervision. Now, it has been reported - I don't know if it's accurate - it's been reported by two major mainstream news organizations that the four frontline prosecutors here said, look, we're going to recommend seven to nine years for Stone, and if you don't like it, they said this to their supervisors, we're going to quit and call the press conference,” Kennedy said. 

“That's not the proper procedure. Nobody's above the law, but nobody beneath the law. Mr. Stone's status as a chucklehead is not a criminal act,” the senator said.

“Right, but the question was whether the attorney general himself should have gotten personally involved. He said in an interview with ABC that the U.S. attorney did consult with him before the filing,” Brennan said.

“Bill Barr didn't initiate it. All Bill Barr's Justice Department did was prosecute the gentleman. The U.S. attorney in Washington came to Bill Barr and said, hey, I've got a question about the sentence. So, Barr says, well, let's talk about it, at least according to Mr. Barr's testimony. In the meantime, the frontline prosecutors went out on their own,” Kennedy said.

“Now, I don't know exactly what happened. I just know what's been reported, Margaret, but I can tell you if one of my staff members came to me and said, Kennedy, I don't agree with your position on net neutrality, and if you don't change it, I'm going to quit and call a press conference. I'll tell you what I'd do,” he said.

“I'd say you have me confused with somebody who cares about what you think. Go call your press conference. You can't resign because you're fired,” the senator said.

When asked whether he wants to call those prosecutors in for questioning, Kennedy said, “If they want to make a statement, that's fine. If the reported facts are wrong, they should say something, but a frontline prosecutor on any case can't just go out on his or her own, particularly, when it involves a public figure.”


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