Wednesday, February 12, 2020

All Four Prosecutors Quit After Justice Department Intervenes On ‘Excessive’ Stone Sentencing; Trump Applauds

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In a series of extraordinary actions Monday and Tuesday, the four federal prosecutors — who comprise the entire legal team that successfully charged longtime Donald Trump associate Roger Stone with a series of process crimes stemming from the congressional investigation into “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia — recommended seven to nine years in prison for Stone, were rebuked by the department they represented for the “excessive and unwarranted” recommendation, then all quit the case after the Justice Department said it would intervene to reduce the sentencing. Throughout the process, President Trump peppered the prosecution with blistering criticism and praised the DOJ for taking action to address the “miscarriage of justice.”

Stone was convicted in November on seven process charges, including lying to Congress and witness tampering during the congressional investigation into alleged Trump-Russia “collusion,” of which Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation ultimately found no evidence.

“Roger Stone obstructed Congress’ investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law. For that, he should be punished in accord with the advisory Guidelines,” read the sentencing memo signed Monday by all four prosecutors, who recommended seven to nine years behind bars for the process crimes.

Stone’s attorneys maintain that 15 to 21 months in prison would be more in line with the types of crimes their client committed.

The surprisingly severe sentencing recommendation was met with strong pushback from Trump, who condemned the case as “horrible and very unfair.” “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday. “Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

By mid-morning Tuesday, reports indicated that the Justice Department would be intervening to change its sentencing recommendation for Stone. “The Department finds seven to nine years extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate,” and a new recommendation would be presented soon, a Justice Department source told Fox News. Tuesday evening, the Justice Department filed a new sentencing memo officially rebuking the “excessive” recommendation by the four prosecutors, which the department said came as a “surprise.”

“A Justice Department official said authorities decided to step in and seek a shorter sentence because they had been taken by surprise by the initial recommendation,” The Associated Press reports. “…In their revised sentencing memo, Justice Department officials argued the initial recommendation could be ‘considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances’ but also said they would defer to the court.”

In response to the department’s decision to overrule their recommendation, all four prosecutors quit the case, leaving “one of the signature prosecutions of Mueller’s team” in chaos.

“The departures leave in limbo the resolution of a case that was one of the signature prosecutions of Mueller’s team and that cut to the heart of his mission — to determine whether the Trump team had access to nonpublic information about Democratic emails hacked by Russian operatives and provided to WikiLeaks,” AP reports.

While the case against Stone has its origins in Mueller’s attempt to find evidence that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russia, after two years and tens of millions invested in the probe, the special counsel found no evidence of such a conspiracy. As The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported in a report promoted by Trump, Stone “was never charged with working with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Instead, the charges against Stone involved his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions with associates regarding the topic of WikiLeaks, which released emails hacked from Democrats in 2016. Prosecutors said that Stone lied when he denied speaking with anyone on the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.”

As The Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow underscored, “special counsel investigators found no evidence that Stone or any other Trump associate had direct contact with anyone at Wikileaks involved in obtaining and releasing Democrat emails, which ended up hurting then-candidate Hillary Clinton.”

Amid the reports of the Justice Department’s intervention, Trump celebrated the turn of events in a series of tweets Tuesday. “All starting to unravel with the ridiculous 9 year sentence recommendation!” Trump wrote in response to one report on the reversal.

“Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started? 13 Angry Democrats?” he wrote in another tweet.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” he wrote in another. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”

“Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign). Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp!” he declared in another.

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