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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Roger Stone. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Justice Department leadership intervened in the sentencing of former Trump adviser Roger Stone for political purposes, according to his opening statement.

Why it matters: Zelinsky is one of two Justice Department whistleblowers who plan to testify before the committee about the alleged politicization of the Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr.

The big picture: Zelinsky, a former member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team, resigned from the case in February after the Justice Department submitted a new sentencing recommendation for Stone, overruling career prosecutors who had requested the former Trump adviser serve seven to nine years in prison for obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

What he'll say:

  • "In the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone."
  • "What I saw was the Department of Justice exerting significant pressure on the line prosecutors in the case to obscure the correct sentencing guidelines calculation to which Roger Stone was subject — and to water down and in some cases outright distort the events that transpired in his trial and the criminal conduct that gave rise to his conviction."
  • "What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president. I was told that the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break, and that the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing instructions to us were based on political considerations."
  • "I was explicitly told that the motivation for changing the sentencing memo was political, and because the U.S. Attorney was 'afraid of the President.'"

Read his opening statement via DocumentCloud.

Go deeper

Dems on Senate Judiciary tell Graham to delay filling Ginsburg's seat

Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaking in August.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), called on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to delay filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court until after the presidential inauguration.

What it matters: Democrats cited the Senate GOP's refusal to consider President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016. Republicans at that time claimed voters should choose the president and the president should select the justice, since the vacancy occurred during an election year.

CPAC Republicans choose conservatism over constituents

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

CPAC proved such a draw, conservative Republicans chose the conference over their constituents.

Why it matters: More than a dozen House Republicans voted by proxy on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in Washington so they could speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC. And Sen. Ted Cruz skipped an Air Force One flight as President Biden flew to Cruz's hometown of Houston to survey storm damage.

Border Democrat warns Biden about immigrant fallout

Henry Cuellar (right). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

A Democratic lawmaker representing a border district warned the Biden administration against easing up too much on unauthorized immigrants, citing their impact on his constituents, local hospitals and their potential to spread the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told Axios he supports President Biden. But the moderate said he sees the downsides of efforts to placate pro-immigrant groups, an effort that threatens to blow up on the administration.

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