Roger Stone, left, with his wife Nydia Stone, leaves federal court in Washington on Nov.15, 2019. Photo: AP file
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Under pressure from Trump, Justice Dept seeks shorter sentence for his adviser Stone

60 Comments
By Sarah N Lynch

Under pressure from President Donald Trump, the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday abruptly moved to seek a shorter prison sentence for veteran Republican operative and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, with all four prosecutors quitting the case after the highly unusual reversal.

Senior department officials - hours after Trump publicly complained that Stone was being treated unfairly - overrode the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years made on Monday by the federal prosecutors who secured Stone's November conviction. Stone was found guilty on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

In a new court filing, a Justice Department official who had not previously worked on the case called that recommendation"excessive and unwarranted" and said the department would not make a formal recommendation.

Democrats blasted the department's shift in the high-profile case involving Stone, whose friendship with Trump dates back decades. Stone's trial arose from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that detailed extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump's candidacy.

Trump criticized the proposed sentence as a "miscarriage of justice" on Twitter early on Tuesday. He later told reporters that he did not speak to the Justice Department.

"I'd be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things," Trump told reporters. "I thought the recommendation was ridiculous."

A senior Justice Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, called the timing of Trump's tweet an"inconvenient coincidence."

After the department's action was disclosed, the four prosecutors who won Stone's conviction - Aaron Zelinsky, John Crabb, Michael Marando and Jonathan Kravis - withdrew from the case. Kravis told the court in a filing he was not only leaving the case but quitting his post as a federal prosecutor.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is due to sentence Stone on Feb. 20.

Legal experts described the department's move as highly unusual. Democrats accused Attorney General William Barr, who heads the department, of working to protect Trump's political interests.

"The president seems to think the entire Justice Department is just his personal lawsuit to prosecute his enemies and help his friends," Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, told reporters.

Schumer asked the department's internal watchdog to investigate the reversal. Democrat Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said he also would investigate the matter.

"AG Barr must stop being the President's lapdog. They are turning us into a banana republic," Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen added on Twitter.

Stone, who has labeled himself a "dirty trickster" and"agent provocateur" and famously has the face of former President Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, was one of several Trump associates charged with crimes as part of Mueller's investigation.

In a court filing on Monday, prosecutors said their proposed sentence fell within U.S. guidelines and would "accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law."

That came as a surprise to senior Justice Department officials who were expecting prosecutors to ask for a lower range, said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Justice Department was not in touch with the White House over the matter, the official said.

Legal experts said it would be unusual for prosecutors to change their proposed sentence after filing a formal recommendation to the court, especially on a high-profile case like this in which senior Justice Department officials as well as courtroom prosecutors are involved in the decision-making.

Several said that the proposed sentence struck them as unusually severe. Stone's defense team, in a filing late on Monday, disputed the prosecution's calculation and proposed a range of between 15 and 21 months. They asked the judge for a sentence that would fall below that range.

"It is high, but the prosecutors obviously felt there were extenuating circumstances that justified the enhancements," said Lynn Niels, a former federal prosecutor.

The new Justice Department filing noted that Stone's guideline sentence would be significantly less - about three to four years - if the charge that he threatened a witness, Randy Credico, was not used in the calculation.

Stone was convicted of the charge. The position taken by the department on the witness tampering charge echoed arguments made by Stone's own defense team in their memo filed late on Monday.

Mueller's investigation detailed a Russian campaign of hacking and propaganda in the 2016 election and extensive contacts between the president's campaign and Moscow. Stone was one of only two of these Trump associates who went to trial rather than pleading guilty.

Trump has the power to pardon people for federal crimes, although he has yet to use it in the cases of other former aides convicted in the wake of the Mueller investigations.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

60 Comments

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It doesn’t really matter because President Trump will correctly pardon him anyway.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

We were told Trump would drain the swamp.

It didn’t happen and now the swamp has a king.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

and that prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.

Right. Only Trump's hardest core true believers trust anything coming from the Trump admin. 15,000 lies and counting.

Stone has denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated.

Mighty rich coming from another Trump-loyal, swamp dwelling conman who's built a career and fortune as a political manipulator. For the benefit of the 'globe's elite establishment'.

The White House referred questions about the decision to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department is run by Barr, another Trump-loyal swamp dweller who along with other Trump-loyal appointees is doing whatever he can to give Trump powers no US executive has ever had. Trump's jealous Xi is emperor for life and Putin Supreme Leader, and wants to become the US Kaiser overseeing Trumpistan. A state with a 'wall' proposed by Roger Stone and paid for by US taxpayers.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

@bas4It’s all falling apart 

By 'it' are you referring to the democratic principles underlying the republic? Trump along with McConnell and other Republicans are attacking those principles with a vengeance. The question is can the 'centre hold', or will 'things fall apart' even faster.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

By 'it' are you referring to the democratic principles underlying the republic?

You mean undermining, trying to politically take out a sitting President is not a Democratic principal, it’s a power grab.

Trump along with McConnell and other Republicans are attacking those principles

No, they fought and upheld them thankfully, now it could have gone off the rails, but it looks more like a pardon is coming Stone’s way and rather quickly.

with a vengeance. The question is can the 'centre hold', or will 'things fall apart' even faster.

If Trump doesn’t get re-elected it all will fall apart. But that’s unlikely. Wonder if Trump will pardon Stone into his second term or just before he leaves office? Knowing Trump, he might do it right after he’s sworn in just to jab the Dems.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

The Justice Department is run by Barr, another Trump-loyal swamp dweller who along with other Trump-loyal appointees is doing whatever he can to give Trump powers no US executive has ever had.

Every administration does that.

Trump's jealous Xi is emperor for life and Putin Supreme Leader, and wants to become the US Kaiser overseeing Trumpistan.

What? Lol! Funny...

A state with a 'wall' proposed by Roger Stone and paid for by US taxpayers.

Americans want border security and want it more than ever.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

More banana republic stuff.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Bass:.  he might do it right after he’s sworn in just to jab the Dems

You really hate the Dems so much you'd damage the country and cheer a guilty man going free?

That's some serious baggage.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Barr is a bad guy. That was apparent, even when the punditry was reassuring us he was legitimate. He is Trump's guy as Attorney General, which is something even the embarrassingly sycophantic Jeff Sessions balked at. 

When Trump is out of office, I don't want to hear any false equivalence rubbish about the danger of going after a previous administration. This bunch has to be brought to book. Like John Mitchell before him, Barr needs to serve time.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Judge do not have to follow, their guidelines, she is the ultimate decider of sentence

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Knowing Trump, he might do it right after he’s sworn in just to jab the Dems.

It’s amply cleat you have no interest in true justice, democracy, or separation of powers. You are only interested in your team winning and sticking it to the libs. You view politics as nothing more than pro wrestling.

Your response to this comment will prove me correct.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

clear

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yeah he needs to become his wingman instead.

"AG Barr must stop being the President's lapdog.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

The bottom line is that the sentencing guidelines were vindictive from ex Mueller team. Nothing Stone did deserves 7-9 years in jail.

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

vindictive from ex Mueller team

Is that what the lady with the crystal ball told you?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

No that’s what facts told me.

Aaron Zelinsky, an ex-member of former special counselRobert Mueller’s team, stepped down from his special assignment to the Stone case. 

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

This is just a trap by proposing this extreme sentence without taking to senior DOJ leadership first.

Try to embarrass Barr and try to get Trump to pardon him now so they can use it politically to start impeachment part deux in the election period.

the goal is and continues to be to get Barr to recuse himself from everything prior to Durham indicting all their friends.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Stinks to high hell!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

@blacklabel Nothing Stone did deserves 7-9 years in jail....witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements...Oh ok so what do you think it deserve?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Just like a banana republic. And what do the Always Trumpers say, "Oh, that's just Trump being Trump!" It makes you wonder if back in the 20s and 30s how many Germans were saying, "Oh, that's just Adolf being Adolf. Yaa, he's a real veener, that one!"

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Try to embarrass Barr and try to get Trump to pardon him now so they can use it politically to start impeachment part deux in the election period.

Is that what the lady with the crystal ball told you?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

1-2 years would be more reasonable.

Non violent acts. 5 of the 7 charges are “lying” which doesn’t mean anything anymore as Dems aren’t even prosecuted for that these days.

dem guy leaked classified info to his media girlfriend and lied about it. Got 2 months as a comparison.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

You really hate the Dems so much you'd damage the country

sorry, the Democrats did that way long ago when they came up with that silly idea to impeach the president, but thanks to Adam Schiff he actually was able to help Trump win a second term, so in hindsight now, we should be thankful to him.

and cheer a guilty man going free?

How? You have to commit a crime first and be convicted of a crime in order to be guilty of any wrongdoing. He was acquitted.

That's some serious baggage.

Like Biden For the Democrats? ROFL!

-12 ( +1 / -13 )

How? You have to commit a crime first and be convicted of a crime in order to be guilty of any wrongdoing. He was acquitted.

He's talking about Stone. Stone is guilty and you want him to walk free. Just like you want all of Trump's friends and minions who have been convicted of crimes to go free. Republicans hate law and order, and love criminals - as long as they're wealthy.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

bass: How? You have to commit a crime first and be convicted of a crime in order to be guilty of any wrongdoing. He was acquitted.

Jesus, dude. We're talking about Roger Stone. Did I lose you already?

Like Biden

No, not like Biden. You clearly said you wanted to see a convicted man go free (Roger Stone in case I lost you again) if it upsets Democrats. Your choice, your words. Be a man. No games. Stand by your statement or retract it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Barr needs to serve time

Absolutely! Barr is a venal virus purposely planted in the bowels of the DOJ by his boss who corrupts everything he comes into contact with. The mucky Augean stables that Trump has installed in the murky Washington swamp can only be cleaned out and disinfected by the Dems after this rogue administration and all its abominable works have been canceled by the voice of the people.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@blacklabel 1-2 years would be more reasonable...so witness tampering obstruction of an investigation is not a big deal for Trump supporters...I get it I really do....

7 ( +7 / -0 )

He's talking about Stone. Stone is guilty and you want him to walk free.

Of not turning on Trump? Yeah, I would like to see him walk, but it looks more like it will happen.

Just like you want all of Trump's friends and minions who have been convicted of crimes to go free.

Given the fact that the Democrats went after them solely for the purpose of getting Trump, yes, I do....well, Manafort really did do some dirty stuff, but it has nothing to do with Trump, an entirely different issue.

Republicans hate law and order

Dems hate it even more.

and love criminals - as long as they're wealthy.

So now they love liberals? Huh?

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

No, not like Biden. You clearly said you wanted to see a convicted man go free (Roger Stone in case I lost you again) if it upsets Democrats.

Yup!

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Under pressure from President Donald Trump, the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday abruptly moved to seek a shorter prison sentence for veteran Republican operative and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, with all four prosecutors quitting the case after the highly unusual reversal.

And there it is in plain sight for everyone to see - the Mob Boss using his influence to help a member of his crime family...

Insults and denigrates a military hero (Vindman) - praises and supports a sleazy liar and criminal (Stone)...

Yep, that's the Great Demented Dimwit being true to form...

And did you see he tweeted a Curb Your Enthusiasm clip that was dissing him - he didn't even realize it...what an imbecile...

https://nypost.com/2020/02/11/trump-praises-maga-hat-scene-from-larry-davids-curb-your-enthusiasm/

5 ( +5 / -0 )

lock him up!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

No, not like Biden. You clearly said you wanted to see a convicted man go free (Roger Stone in case I lost you again) if it upsets Democrats.

Yup!

The modern Republican, ladies and gentleman: pro-criminality, pro-corruption.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Modern Dems. Decriminalize all drug possession including heroin. Decriminalize illegal entry to our country.

but put old guys in jail for 9 years to die in prison for non violent infractions, mostly lying.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Of not turning on Trump?

Of the crimes he committed. I know you Republicans worship Trump, but the definition of "crime" isn't "things Trump doesn't like".

Given the fact that the Democrats went after them solely for the purpose of getting Trump, yes, I do....well, Manafort really did do some dirty stuff, but it has nothing to do with Trump, an entirely different issue.

No, they went after them because they committed crimes. Which is why they were convicted of crimes. Manafort did nothing without Trump's instruction: it had everything to do with Trump.

Dems hate it even more.

The Democratic Party is prosecuting criminals: only you and your buddies are advocating that criminals go free.

So now they love liberals? Huh?

You've said that you love the rich and that they deserve more money. But now you hate the wealthy because you think they're all liberals? Which is it? Are the wealthy good or bad?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Modern Dems. Decriminalize all drug possession including heroin. Decriminalize illegal entry to our country.

but put old guys in jail for 9 years to die in prison for non violent infractions, mostly lying.

Possessing drugs isn't a violent act. Entering a country isn't a violent act. So that has nothing to do with it.

Witness tampering and obstruction of justice is a bigger threat to the US than a kid having an ounce of pot. Why can't Republicans understand this?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Witness tampering and obstruction of justice are subjective and also not violent like your examples.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Heroin? Decriminalized. Cocaine and meth too. All drugs.

than a kid having an ounce of pot.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Witness tampering and obstruction of justice are subjective and also not violent like your examples.

Stone was objectively convicted of witness tampering and obstruction of justice. He is a criminal. And you want him to get a light sentence for attempting to subvert US justice. Pro-crime. Pro-corruption. Pro-Trump.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

He was framed anyway.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Witness tampering and obstruction of justice are subjective and also not violent like your examples.

After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should “stonewall it” and “plead the fifth,” he testified. Credico also testified during Stone’s trial that Stone repeatedly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before Congress. Prosecutors said Stone had also threatened Credico’s therapy dog, Bianca, saying he was “going to take that dog away from you.”

Geez, how sleazy can you get...threaten someone's puppy...

 Steve Bannon, who served as the campaign’s chief executive, testified during the trial that Stone had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails.

So Trumpers, does that make Bannon a "Backstabber'? Yes or no. And his best buddy was Assange - who hates America....explain that...we'll be waiting....

Heroin? Decriminalized. Cocaine and meth too. All drugs.

Can always count on this poster staying on topic...well, when you have no rebuttal...

Stone was convicted Friday of all seven counts in a federal indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So, deDonnie is interfering once again (or at least trying to):

".......Trump publicly complained that Stone was being treated unfairly......"

Of course always using the same wording including his most liked one "unfair".

As always: my way, his way and nothing else counts!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This issue cuts to the core of Trumpism, where the law is only a tool to protect yourself and your allies and to strike back at your real or perceived enemies. The concept of impartial justice simply does not exist to this man. That’s why he automatically assumes that every investigation has some nefarious motive- the idea that someone would fairly use the law is completely foreign to him.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

More indications that Trump won't leave the WH even if he loses the election. The US is becoming like one big Mississippi. Proof? Look at the states where Republicans rule (like Mississippi).

Decriminalize illegal entry to our country.

That was Reagan when he greenlit 3M greencards during his amnesty for illegals.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Bass:. Given the fact that the Democrats went after them solely for the purpose of getting Trump

The investigation was started by Republicans. Not only do you want to see a guilty man go free to the detriment of the country, you don't even have you justification right.

I'm sorry Democrats broke you to the point where you want to see a guilty man go free. I really am. But you shouldn't be cheering for corruption because Democrats hurt your feelings. It will come back to haunt you.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The investigation was started by Republicans.

and then passed and taken on by Hillary and the Dems.

Not only do you want to see a guilty man go free to the detriment of the country, you don't even have you justification right.

Funny, coming from the people that support open borders.

I'm sorry Democrats broke you to the point where you want to see a guilty man go free.

Not broken, Trump was acquitted, total vindication.

I really am. But you shouldn't be cheering for corruption because Democrats hurt your feelings. It will come back to haunt you.

What? Anyhoo, 4 more years of Trump should continue to annoy you guys, that’s music.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

4 more years of Trump should continue to annoy you guys

Especially if he refuses to leave after he loses the election.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Not broken, Trump was acquitted, total vindication.

We're talking about the convicted criminal Roger Stone.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Under pressure from Trump, Justice Dept seeks shorter sentence for his adviser Stone

Cant get any more biased than that. "Mainstream media" have become a standing joke.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Donny tweets, DOJ acts and Barr disgraces himself once again!!

And America has gone far beyond being a banana republic!!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Why does Trump think he can by-pass any conviction? I guess we don't need any courts, judges or witnesses.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

We were told Trump would drain the swamp.

We were told he would try, but the swamp is big and fighting back.

It didn’t happen and now the swamp has a king.

What? What is that even supposed to mean?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

We're talking about the convicted criminal Roger Stone

He won’t be once Trump pardons him. That’s the quirk that every President gets to do. You don’t have to like it. I didn’t like Clinton or Obama’s pardons, but they happened, we just have to accept it.

And America has gone far beyond being a banana republic!!!!

This is exactly why Democrats won’t get the White House, their party is a banana republic.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

He won’t be once Trump pardons him.

Yes, he will: one of the conditions of accepting a pardon is recognising and admitting that you committed a crime. Roger Stone is a criminal, and you and your GOP buddies, because you love wealthy criminals, want a law-breaker to go free.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Funny, coming from the people that support open borders.

Heroin? Decriminalized. Cocaine and meth too. All drugs.

and then passed and taken on by Hillary???

Something is really wrong with you. You both are spouting nothing but blind and sick hyper partisan rhetoric. Take off the republicanz r all rite and demokrats r all wronge monologue. Try and see it from the middle ground of an indepdendant and moderate perspective. You both lack perspective as you keep tilting the ship hard right all the time you don't even realize your going around in circles instead of seeing the destination leading to

Not broken, Trump was acquitted, total vindication.

Let's say a relative of yours was murdered. A credible witness saw your relative murdered, and even has video evidence showing the perpetrator is guilty of committing the crime. The Judge and defense attorneys, and over half the jury members selected are close friends with the individual who murdered your relative. The individual who murdered your relative helped put the judge in their current position and went to frat parties with the defense attorneys, and invited some of the current sitting jury members over a lot of times. During the trial you show up expecting justice to be done, and the witness who saw your relative murdered and also has very credible evidence is never ever called to the stand. You sit during the trial waiting for the witness to be called for the prosecutors in the case. The Judge, defense attorneys decide they don't want that witness to be called and go to extreme measures (against their oaths, laws, and duties of their position) to prevent that witness (and some others that exist) from ever showing up at the trial and testifying at the stand. The judge claims that there is no evidence to support the case, because there were no witnesses to testify for your murdered relative, and throws out your case because he/she is friends with the plaintiff. Would you then claim that justice was served to your dead relative at all?

The stark raving hypocrisy should be obvious...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is exactly why Democrats won’t get the White House, their party is a banana republic.

Donny might think he runs a Banana Republic, however we'll wait for the judges to decide.

However the fact that Donny wants to pardon Stone so soon doesn't give much confidence in him staying on for 4 more years!!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Donny wont pardon him he will just send him to the dogs like he did to all his other criminal friends...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yes, he will: one of the conditions of accepting a pardon is recognising and admitting that you committed a crime. Roger Stone is a criminal

Most liberals would say that, most conservatives think that Adam Schiff is a criminal.

you and your GOP buddies, because you love wealthy criminals, want a law-breaker to go free.

No I’m not a liberal, if that were the case a lot of liberals on the power side in California and Washington will be locked up right now, since they are the wealthiest, remember we are the poor and uneducated. ROFL!!

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Donny might think he runs a Banana Republic, however we'll wait for the judges to decide.

they already did, he’s acquitted.

However the fact that Donny wants to pardon Stone so soon doesn't give much confidence in him staying on for 4 more years!!!

Don’t get your hopes up, it’s a done deal. The country is never going to vote for a socialist.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Trump decide nothing, the judge do

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Steve Bannon, who served as the campaign’s chief executive, testified during the trial that Stone had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails.

So Trumpers, does that make Bannon a "Backstabber'? Yes or no. And his best buddy was Assange - who hates America....explain that...we'll be waiting....

Still waiting Trumpers - Bannon testified against Stone, so does that make Bannon a "Backstabber" and "scum"?

And explain Stone's friendship with Assange - someone who colluded with Chelsea Manning to steal US classified information and worked with Russians to steal DNC emails?

https://qz.com/1592762/the-us-charges-against-julian-assange/

Don't keep us waiting...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

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