One of the four prosecutors who withdrew from the Roger Stone prosecution will tell Congress that prosecutors were pressured to give Stone “favorable treatment” because of his connection to President Donald Trump.
According to prepared testimony, Aaron Zelinsky — who withdrew from the Stone case — plans to tell Congress, “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 also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President,'” he added.
He continued to provide an overview of Stones’ charges and the reasoning for the original sentencing recommendation. Additionally, he says Justice Department officials did not listen to the prosecutors’ concerns about withdrawing the initial sentencing recommendation.
Prosecutors originally recommended that Stone receive seven to nine years in prison for charges of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering.
But after Trump decried the recommendation as “a horrible and unfair situation” the Justice Department recommended a lighter sentence, as IJR reported.
The decision to recommend a lighter sentence sparked allegations that the move was politically motivated to help an ally of Trump, as IJR reported. The House Judiciary Committee also sought information about alleged political interference in the case.
However, Attorney General William Barr has denied that the decision to recommend a shorter sentence was politically motivated. Barr also said he had decided to rescind the sentencing recommendation before Trump’s tweet.
Instead, the Justice Department said the original recommendation was “excessive and unwarranted.”
Zelinsky added, “My concern is not with this sentencing outcome” but instead it is about the “process and the fact that the Department of Justice treated Roger Stone differently and more leniently in ways that are virtually, if not entirely, unprecedented.”
Zelinsky is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.