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Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, in an interview Wednesday, would not rule out a new impeachment effort against President Trump over his alleged interference in the criminal case of his former associate Roger Stone.
Federal prosecutors on Monday had recommended a sentence of between 87 and 108 months in prison for Stone’s conviction on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
But in a stunning reversal, as Fox News first reported, leadership at the Justice Department overruled the prosecutors on the case, scaling back the proposed sentence for Stone, which immediately led Democrats to accuse Trump of interfering in the process by tweeting about his displeasure with the DOJ. Trump denies it, and the case lately has been complicated further by questions over possible juror bias.
During an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Swalwell, D-Calif., was asked whether Democrats would look to launch a new impeachment inquiry on the new controversy.
“You know, we’re not going to take our options off the table,” Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, told CNN. “We don’t wake up in the morning wanting to impeach him.”
He added: “We want to work with him on prescription drugs, background checks, and infrastructure, but we’re 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.”
Swalwell’s comments come as several Democrats on Capitol Hill have demanded investigations — and even the resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr — after the move to scale back the Stone sentence.
“Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted Wednesday. “Barr should resign or face impeachment.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also slammed Barr, saying he “ought to be ashamed and embarrassed and resign as a result of this action directly interfering in the independent prosecution of Roger Stone.” He also said the controversy was yet another example of “political interference by the president to alter the independent decisions of the Department of Justice.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t answer a question on whether Barr should resign but said: “I think the behavior is extremely egregious.”
The latest Democratic fervor comes after four career prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case, including one quitting outright, after leadership at the Justice Department (DOJ) overruled them.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., immediately called for an investigation into Trump’s alleged political intervention into Stone’s sentencing.
Schumer also took to the Senate floor and torched Senate Republicans who acquitted Trump on two articles of impeachment for enabling Trump’s conduct.
“Republicans thought the president would learn his lesson,” Schumer said in a veiled jab at Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “It turned out that the lesson he learned was not that he went too far — not that he needed to rein it in. The lesson the president learned was that the Republican Party will not hold him accountable no matter how egregious his behavior. Not now, not ever.”
But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham wasn’t too keen on Schumer’s demand for an emergency hearing.
“Like I take everything with him [with] a grain of salt,” said Graham, R-S.C.
Fresh off of weeks of impeachment, Democrats raised similar alarm bells and phrases as during the Ukraine saga, saying the Stone matter is another example of political interference, abuse of power and President Trump thinking he’s above the law.
Lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff ripped Trump for trying to influence the judicial system.
“It’s a shocking undermining of the rule of law in this country,” Schiff said, adding it’s “an abuse of the powers of his office.”
Another impeachment manager, lawyer and former judge, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, told Fox News: “This president’s behavior is just totally out of control. This is one of the most egregious things that I’ve ever seen.”
She stopped short of calling for Barr’s resignation but said: “We can’t sit back and not do something. The question is what.”
She ticked off the oversight tools House Democrats still have.
“It’s hearings. It’s investigation. It’s litigation. It’s subpoenas. It’s contempt. It’s all the same ones we’ve always had, but it’s a question of making sure that we’re strategic in what we do,” she said.
However, Trump on Wednesday denied interfering in Stone’s criminal case, while declining to say whether he’d consider a pardon for the GOP political operative.
“The fact is that Roger Stone was treated horribly and so were many other people,” Trump said. “Their lives were destroyed.”
“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 continued. “They put a man in jail, destroy his life, his family, his wife.”
He added: “Roger Stone — nobody even knows what he did… Frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of people whose lives they’ve ruined.”
Stone is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Feb. 20.
Earlier this month, after a weeks-long Senate trial, the president was acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection to his pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report.