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GOP senators say Trump shouldn't weigh in on pending sentences

Some Republican senators said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE shouldn't weigh in on pending sentences after he publicly criticized an initial recommendation from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the case of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneBannon asked Trump DOJ to reimburse his legal fees from Russia probe: report Feds charge members of Three Percenters militia group over Jan. 6 attack Biden's anti-corruption memo is good news — and essential to US national security MORE.

The comments come as senators are facing an onslaught of questions over DOJ's decision to lower its sentencing recommendation for Stone, a Trump associate, overriding front-line prosecutors.

"I don't like this chain of events where you have a ... proceeding, a sentencing, a recommended sentence, the president weighs in and all of the sudden Justice comes back, says 'change the deal.' I think most people would look at that and say 'hmm, that just doesn't look right.' And I think they're right," Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (R-Alaska) told reporters.
 
Murkowski added while she didn’t “think the president should be determining what the sentences are,” she also didn’t expect that he would make the ultimate decision. Stone’s prison sentence will be decided by an Obama-appointed federal judge.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP torpedoes election bill; infrastructure talks hit snag White House digs in as infrastructure talks stall MORE (R-Maine) told reporters that Trump "should not have gotten involved."

"I think the president would be better served by never commenting on a pending federal investigations. I said that back when the Mueller investigation was going on, and it's certainly the case when you're at a sentencing stage," Collins said, asked about Democrats' claims of political interference. She referenced a separate DOJ probe by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
 
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure MORE (R-S.C.) said he didn't think Trump was trying to "bully" the judge who will ultimately decide Stone's sentence. But, he added, he didn't think the president should be publicly weighing on pending sentences either. 
 
"I don't think he should be commenting on cases in the system, I don't think that's appropriate," Graham told reporters. 

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The Justice Department on Tuesday asked a federal court to sentence Stone to "far less" than seven to nine years in prison — the time frame federal prosecutors had recommended on Monday.  

"While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here, the government respectfully submits that the range of 87 to 108 months presented as the applicable advisory Guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case," the department said.

The decision from DOJ leadership came after Trump had publicly criticized the initial seven-to-nine-year sentencing recommendation, calling it "very unfair."

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

Trump said on Tuesday that he did not instruct the Justice Department to change its sentence, but that he could have and that he thought the initial recommendation was "ridiculous."  
 
Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed MORE (R-Utah), who has emerged as a chief Trump critic within the Senate GOP caucus, stopped short of directly criticizing the president on Wednesday.  
 
"The judge will make a decision and I have confidence in the independence of the third branch," Romney told reporters. "[But] I can't begin to spend time discussing the president's tweets. That would be a full-time job." 
 
Asked if he didn't think there was political interference, Romney added, "I certainly hope not, and I think the appearance is unfortunate."