Updated Feb 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump congratulates Barr after prosecutors resign from Roger Stone case

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department submitted a new sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone on Tuesday, overruling career prosecutors who requested in a court filing Monday that the former Trump adviser serve 7–9 years in prison.

Driving the news: President Trump acknowledged in a Wednesday morning tweet that Attorney General Bill Barr had intervened in the matter, congratulating him for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought."

What they're saying: The new sentencing memo states, "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."

  • It argues that the witness Stone was convicted of attempting to intimidate, Randy Credico, claims that he "did not perceive a genuine threat."
  • It also points to Stone's "advanced age, health, personal circumstances and lack of criminal history" as mitigating factors.
  • The department did not offer a specific sentence recommendation, noting that it would defer to the court.

Why it matters: The downgraded sentencing recommendation is sure to prompt allegations of political interference. All four prosecutors who tried Stone in November — Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Michael Marando — withdrew from the case on Tuesday afternoon. Zelinsky and Kravis resigned from their positions as special assistant U.S. attorney and assistant U.S. attorney in D.C., respectively.

The big picture: Trump tweeted early Tuesday that the recommendation is a "miscarriage of justice" that he "cannot allow," claiming that the "real crimes were on the other side." He later told reporters that he didn't speak to the Justice Department about the case, but that he would have "the absolute right" to.

  • Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec told The Daily Beast that DOJ officials did not consult with the White House and that the decision to change the recommendation came before Trump's tweet.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the Justice Department inspector general requesting an investigation into the reduced sentencing recommendation, writing: "This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution."
  • The president posted a tweet later criticizing the judge presiding over Stone's case, Amy Berman Jackson, after it was pointed out that she had dealt with cases involving the Mueller investigation — including that of the now-imprisoned former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Background: Stone, one of several Trump associates to be indicted as a result of the Mueller investigation, was found guilty in November on seven counts related to his attempts to learn more about when WikiLeaks would publish damaging emails about 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

  • The self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" was convicted of crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.
  • The Justice Department's original memo, which recommended that he be hit with a sentence in line with the advisory guidelines, accused Stone of displaying "contempt for this Court and the rule of law."

Read the new sentencing memo.

This article has been updated with Trump's comments on the judge.

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