The President referred to the sentencing proposal as a “miscarriage of justice” and shortly after, the Justice Department announced it had intentions of recommending a reduced sentence for Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone.
A little over a year ago, Roger Stone was arrestedand charged after he allegedly “obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness” [Source: NBC News]. Stone, who has been an associate to President Trump for nearly three decades is“the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of the Mueller probe.” Based on the alleged crimes Stone committed, prosecutors were seeking a sentence of between 87 to 108 months of imprisonment.
It seems though after President Trump caught wind of the “excessive” sentence and sent out a Tweet, the Justice Department announced it would be submitting a revised sentence recommendation to the court. The DOJ is asking for a sentence reduction as “the one recommended earlier does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter.” Although the revised recommendation doesn’t stipulate a particular sentence, says NBC News, it is seeking a sentence that is “far less” than what was initially discussed.
Aside from taking into account the fact that the DOJ now thinks the sentence is unreasonable, it is also asking that Judge Amy Berman Jacksonconsider Stone’s “advanced age, health, personal circumstances, and lack of criminal history in fashioning an appropriate sentence.”
Entire Team of Prosecutors Withdraw from Stone’s Case
NBC News reported that after the DOJ recommended a “softer sentence,” Aaron Zelinsky, lead prosecutor, withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. Although Zelinksy did resign from the case, he is still a part of the Justice Department but has left the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and shall be returning to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. Jonathan Kravis, who was also prosecutor on the case, also resigned, “both from the case and as an assistant U.S. attorney.” Adam Jed and Michael Marando, the two remaining prosecutors, decided to also withdraw from the case.
While it might seem coincidental that just after Trump sent out his tweet, the Justice Department announced it would be recommending a reduced sentence, Top Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told NBC News “that the decision to reverse course on the sentencing recommendation was made prior to Trump’s almost 2 a.m. tweet.”
Despite the coincidence, Rep. Adam Schiff issued a statement saying that “it would be a blatant abuse of power if President Trump has in fact intervened to reverse the recommendations of career prosecutors at the Department of Justice. Doing so would send an unmistakable message that President Trump will protect those who lie to Congress to cover up his own misconduct, and that the Attorney General will join him in that effort.”
While there are still more details to be gathered regarding this request for a reduced sentence, one this is clear—Stone must have hired some rather sharp criminal defense lawyers to represent him.