President Trump falsely called himself the “chief law enforcement officer” of the United States Tuesday. This is Trump speaking about the Justice Department’s abrupt decision to withdraw an earlier sentencing recommendation for Trump’s close friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone, who was found guilty of seven counts of lying to Congress.
President Donald Trump: “Just so you understand, I chose not to be involved. I’m allowed to be totally involved. I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”
Trump’s statement is not correct: The attorney general is the United States’ top law enforcement officer, not the president. Trump’s false claim comes as more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials have now called on Attorney General William Barr to resign, after he intervened in Stone’s sentencing. Four federal prosecutors withdrew from the case, and one resigned from his job, over Barr’s actions. The Federal Judges Association is holding an emergency meeting today amid the growing concerns about Trump’s intervention in the Stone case and the Justice Department overall. Roger Stone will be sentenced on Thursday, despite Trump demanding a new trial.
President Trump issued a wave of pardons and commutations Tuesday to a group of his political allies, circumventing the normal Justice Department process. Among the 11 people granted clemency Tuesday were former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who had been jailed for attempting to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat; former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, who was convicted of tax fraud and lying to officials; and investment banker Mike Milken, who was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy and was best known as the “junk bond king.” The clemency comes amid speculation Trump might also try to pardon his longtime friend and former campaign adviser Roger Stone.
Six Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight in Nevada, only days before the state’s caucus Saturday. Tonight’s debate is the first time the former New York City mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg, will be on stage, although he is not on the ballot in Nevada. Heading into tonight’s debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has surged to a large lead in a new national Washington Post-ABC News poll, which now shows Sanders with 32% support, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden, who has only 16% support. Sanders has also doubled his support among black voters and is overwhelmingly the preferred candidate of voters under 50 years old. A separate poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Sanders with a considerable lead in California, with particularly favorable support among Latino voters. This is Sanders speaking in Reno, Nevada, Tuesday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “We’re going to win this election, not because we are buying the airwaves, as Mr. Bloomberg is. We’re going to win this election because we are putting together the strongest grassroots movement that this country has ever seen.”
In Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani has been declared the winner of last year’s presidential election, after the results were delayed for five months. But Ghani’s main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, has also declared himself the winner and says he will form a parallel government. The political chaos comes amid breakthroughs in the peace negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, with a peace plan expected to be announced in the coming days.
In Cameroon, the United Nations says at least 22 people were killed, including 14 children, in a massacre Friday in the Anglophone region of the country. An opposition party has blamed the killings on the army, which the army denied. The massacre comes amid a conflict between the Cameroon army and English-speaking separatist fighters, which has killed thousands of people and has forced more than half a million civilians to flee their homes.
Somali broadcast journalist Abdiwali Ali Hassan was shot and killed by gunmen near his home outside Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, earlier this week. He was a freelance correspondent for the London-based Universal TV and local Radio Kulmiye. No group has claimed responsibility for his assassination.
In North Carolina, an appeals court has temporarily blocked the state from using its voter identification law in elections, after ruling the policy was enacted by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in 2018 specifically to discriminate against African-American voters. The ruling is the latest battle against discriminatory voter ID laws in North Carolina. An earlier version of the state’s voter ID laws was thrown out after a federal judge said the law targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.”