The Department of Justice is reportedly stepping in to reduce the sentencing recommendation for former Trump confidant and GOP operative Roger Stone after federal prosecutors announced an unusually stiff prison sentence for process crimes.
Stone last year was found guilty on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In his defense, Stone’s lawyers argued that he did not have an actual inside connection with WikiLeaks and it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he had lied to Congress.
Not surprisingly, most of the assistant U.S. attorneys and prosecutors on the case—Jonathan Kravis, Michael Marando, Aaron Zelinsky and Adam C. Jed—have impressive liberal credentials. From 2009 to 2010, Kravis served as Associate Counsel to then-President Obama. He is now deputy chief of the fraud and public corruption section in the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, where Marando also works.
Zelinsky and Jed are both former members of Mueller’s team. Last year, former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo accused Zelinsky of trying to ensnare him in a process crime when he was interviewed by the special counsel team in May of 2018.
On Monday, the anti-Trump lawyers asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, to sentence Stone to between 87 and 108 months in prison.
Their draconian recommendation prompted an outcry from Republicans.
“Lying to Congress: Brennan, Vindman Obstruction of Justice: Hillary deleted emails, wiped/bashed/bit washed hard drives- subpoenaed Lying to the FBI: McCabe Leaking: McCabe, Comey, Clapper, Page Yet Stone may get prison for process crimes as hoax victim!” wrote retired Lt. Col. Jim Hickmen on Twitter.
“Can someone please remind me how many years John Brennan is spending in prison for lying under oath?” asked Republican strategist Andrew Surabian.
“This is completely insane, and these prosecutors should be embarrassed to request something so unjust and outrageous from the court How many years will they ask McCabe to get sentenced to?” tweeted former CIA analyst Buck Sexton. “He lied under oath. But the answer is ZERO.”
President Trump himself decried the sentence, calling it “disgraceful” on Twitter, spurring speculation that a pardon was in the works for his former associate. “This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in another late-night tweet. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
It appears that the top brass at the DOJ were also appalled at the “extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate” sentence.
“The Department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the filing in the stone case last night,” a DOJ official told Fox News. “The sentencing recommendation was not what had been briefed to the Department.”
The source told Fox that the DOJ would be clarifying its position later on Tuesday.
“The Department finds seven to nine years extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate to Mr. Stone’s offenses,” the official said.
This wouldn’t be the liberal attorneys have acted in an “extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate” manner in the Stone case.
In January of 2019, heavily armed FBI agents stormed Stone’s home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in a pre-dawn raid. CNN, apparently tipped off ahead of time, was on the ground to capture the the over-the-top show of force live.
Surveillance footage from Stone’s home showed CNN arriving about an hour before a fleet of trucks filled with heavily armed agents arrived to arrest the 66-year-old.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, who aired the footage in February of 2019, said, “The footage depicts what you’d expect if the FBI raided the home of a Mexican drug lord.”
The FBI's treatment of Roger Stone is a National Disgrace ….
There's nothing normal about the pre-dawn raid that happened at Stone's Home.
Also, Watch @CNN's video guy show up about an hour before the agents did.
Full Video: https://t.co/8y9MeUO1oP pic.twitter.com/LIB5eGVDhE
— Stephanie Hamill (@STEPHMHAMILL) February 9, 2019
Stone’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20.
Zelinsky withdrew from the case Tuesday and is resigning from DOJ effective immediately, the Federalist reported:
Aaron Zelinsky, one of the Mueller cronies behind the obscene 9-year prison recommendation for Roger Stone, was just removed from the case. https://t.co/1FqfmGEL0B pic.twitter.com/10U4Dvlgj3
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) February 11, 2020
Another one bites the dust!
Significant Roger Stone developments –
DOJ Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis has "resigned as an Assistant US Attorney" pic.twitter.com/mdjG6teWEW
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) February 11, 2020
The Mueller team self-purge continues –
Adam Jed withdraws from the Roger Stone case.
He called himself "Aaron C. Jed" in the filing ?♂️ pic.twitter.com/L9fSmMfTkv
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) February 11, 2020
Tuesday afternoon, the DOJ issued a Supplemental and Amended Sentencing Recommendation memo, objecting to the previous sentencing recommendation.
Murando throws in the towel, too:
FOURTH Stone prosecutor withdraws from the case: Michael Marando. pic.twitter.com/HE93Qo4YOM
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) February 11, 2020