Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DOJ watchdog probing Roger Stone sentencing changes

Roger Stone, former adviser and confidante to U.S. President Donald Trump, leaves the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia after being sentenced February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Roger Stone, friend and former adviser to President Trump, leaves the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia after being sentenced in February in Washington, DC. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Department of Justice inspector general's office has launched an internal investigation into Attorney General Bill Barr's intervention in the sentencing of President Trump's associate Roger Stone, the DOJ confirmed Monday night.

Why it matters: The probe centers around Barr's February decision to seek a lighter sentence after career prosecutors recommended seven to nine years in prison for Stone, who was convicted of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress, NBC News first reported.

  • Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky testified before Congress in June that prosecutors were under "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice" in the case.

The big picture: Trump congratulated Barr for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought." Barr has said he made "the right decision" in the case.

What they're saying: Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement to news outlets, "We welcome the review."

  • Stephanie Logan, a spokesperson for DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, would only say to Politico, "Our general practice is to not confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigation."

Of note: Stone was the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

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