President Trump called it "horrible and very unfair," and he's apparently not entirely alone in that take. Following prosecutors' Monday recommendation that longtime Trump ally Roger Stone serve 7 to 9 years for lying to Congress and witness tampering, a senior Justice Department official on Tuesday called the recommendation "excessive" and said it would be shaved down. It's a move the AP describes as an "extraordinary step." Explains the official: "That recommendation is not what had been briefed to the department. The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone's offenses." Soon after the DoJ's announcement, all four prosecutors involved left the case, CNN reports. Two of them also resigned from the Washington, DC, US Attorney's Office. By Tuesday afternoon, the office had issued a new filing, not signed by any of those prosecutors, that takes a more sympathetic view of Stone's crimes and calls for "far less" time behind bars.
The Washington Post, via sources, describes a last-minute scramble, reporting that "as Monday’s court deadline neared for the prosecutors to give a sentencing recommendation ... it was still unclear what the office would do, after days of tense internal debates on the subject." The "front-line" prosecutors ultimately went with their recommendation rather than the lower one sought by their bosses, per the Post. The Justice Department says its decision was made before Trump's tweet and that the White House was not consulted about it, and Trump also told reporters Tuesday he did not ask the department to make the move. Still, Axios notes "the downgraded sentencing recommendation is sure to prompt allegations of political interference." Indeed, Chuck Schumer claimed the rule of law is being "totally perverted to Donald Trump's own personal desires and needs." Ultimately, the judge in the case will make the final decision as to a sentence. (Read more Roger Stone stories.)