All 4 Prosecutors Quit Roger Stone Case After DOJ's 'Extraordinary Step'

Department of Justice issues a lower sentencing recommendation
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2020 12:57 PM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2020 5:26 PM CST
DOJ Announces 'Extraordinary Step' in Roger Stone Case
In this Nov. 12, 2019 file photo, Roger Stone, a longtime Republican provocateur and former confidant of President Donald Trump, waits in line at the federal court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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. (More Roger Stone stories.)

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