One of the prosecutors in charge of the prosecution of President Trump’s friend intends to testify to the “political patronage” shown by his superiors.
What I’ve heard – repeatedly – is that Stone is being treated differently than any other defendant because of his relationship with the president,” Zelinsky is expected to say in the first minutes of his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
In a 13-page statement, he also said he heard that the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia was under intense pressure from the highest levels of the Justice Department to give the defendant a chance and that his instructions to them were based on political considerations.
In the many cases that I have had the privilege of handling in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision-making. With one exception: United States vs. Roger Stone.
Mr. Zelinsky, who admits that he did not take part in the discussions with the Department of Justice hierarchy, says he based his analysis on the way the file was handled and on discussions with his bosses.
Described as a whistleblower by Democrats, Zelinsky, like two of his colleagues, withdrew from the case in February after the Justice Department intervened with the judge to get Stone a more lenient sentence than initially requested by prosecutors. A fourth prosecutor had even resigned.
In an exceptional rebuff to members of his team, Attorney General Bill Barr defended his department’s decision, saying the seven to nine years in prison that the prosecutors had recommended was excessive and unjustified.
President Trump had previously attacked prosecutors and the justice system through angry tweets.
The supervisor of the prosecutors on the case had told them a few days earlier that their case was solid and that Roger Stone deserved the jail time they were asking for every day,” wrote Zelinsky.
However, they were later ordered to reduce the sentence, even though a supervisor admitted that the decision was unethical and wrong, he argues.
I was explicitly told that the motivation behind the change in the sentencing memorandum was political and that the [acting District of Columbia] prosecutor was “afraid of the president.
Despite significant pressure, prosecutors have refused to reduce the requested sentence, he explains.
Reviewing the charges filed against Stone, the chronology surrounding the saga of his hierarchy’s about-face and the Department of Justice’s sentencing guidelines, he said the arguments put forward in the last memorandum were inconsistent with the case and contrary to department policy.
The DOJ’s decision to override the initial recommendation of prosecutors is virtually unprecedented, as is the fact that none of the prosecutors signed the document submitted by the Department,” Zelinsky said.
In a statement relayed by the U.S. media, a spokeswoman for Bill Barr’s department denounced the prosecutor’s indictment, saying that his accusations were based on his own interpretation of events and hearsay (at best) and not on facts he allegedly witnessed.
Kerri Kupec praised [Bill Barr’s] commitment to the rule of law and the fair and impartial administration of justice, saying that he ensured that the law was applied in a non-political manner.
The attorney general’s about-face in favor of a friend of the president had led to accusations of judicial interference not only by Democrats, but also by more than 2,000 former prosecutors and Department of Justice officials.
Roger Stone was ultimately sentenced to 40 months in prison.
His high-profile trial stemmed from special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collaboration between Moscow and the Trump camp.
Trump’s sixth collaborator in Mueller’s investigation, he was convicted last November of seven counts, including obstructing a House committee, bribing witnesses and lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks about hacked Democratic