All 4 Prosecutors Quit Roger Stone Case After DOJ Overrides Their Authority
All four prosecutors working on the Roger Stone case abruptly resigned Tuesday after top Department of Justice officials went behind them to shorten the original recommended sentence of seven to nine years.
The longtime associate of President Donald Trump was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing the Russia investigation to protect the president and his 2016 campaign. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the election led to Stone’s prosecution.
The prosecutors from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office wrote in a filing Monday that Stone should be sentenced seven to nine years for the seven charges he was convicted of last year. Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that the sentencing recommendation was excessive and that “this miscarriage of justice” should be prohibited.
“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump wrote about the sentence recommendation. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
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! https://t.co/rHPfYX6Vbv
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2020
Hours later, the Justice Department announced it would reduce the sentencing recommendation prompting the four career prosecutors to withdraw from the case, and one to leave the Justice Department altogether.
The prosecutors Jonathan Kravis, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando notified the court one at a time on Tuesday afternoon that they were leaving the Stone case. Kravis left the Justice Department entirely.
The New York Times reported that the prosecutors were not even notified by the department, but instead found out about the decision from Fox News.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington revised the recommendation to be “far less” than the seven to nine year sentence recommended the day prior. The revision was not signed by any of the four prosecutors working the case.
Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told CNN that the sentencing revision was decided by top Justice Department officials without consulting the White House, and before Trump had tweeted his criticism. Trump told reporters Tuesday that he did not tell the Justice Department to change Stone’s sentencing recommendation.
However, he commended Attorney General William Barr on intervening in the case.
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump wrote the day after he complained about the sentencing recommendation. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 12, 2020
Critics of the change said the Department of Justice’s decision showed the politicization of the department.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) said, “there shouldn’t be one set of sentencing guidelines for everyone and another set for President Trump’s friends and those who lied to protect him.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called for an investigation into the Justice Department’s sudden shift on the Stone sentencing.
“It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation,” Pelosi tweeted Tuesday. “Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated.”
By tweet @realDonaldTrump engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone. It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 12, 2020
Ultimately, sentencing will be at the discretion of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who has the ability to hand down what she views as an appropriate sentence on Feb. 20.