Prosecutors quit after DOJ backtracks on Stone

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on February 12, 2020 - Duration: 01:38s

Prosecutors quit after DOJ backtracks on Stone

Under pressure from President Donald Trump, the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday abruptly moved to seek a shorter prison sentence for veteran Republican operative and long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone, with all four prosecutors quitting the case after the highly unusual reversal.

Tamara Lindstrom reports.


Prosecutors quit after DOJ backtracks on Stone

Donald Trump on Tuesday stood by his criticism of federal prosecutors who called for a lengthy sentence for convicted, longtime Trump ally Roger Stone.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I thought the recommendation was ridiculous.

I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous." Stone was found guilty on seven charges connected with Russian meddling in the the 2016 presidential election, including lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.

Federal prosecutors on Monday said a 7- to 9-year recommended prison sentence fell within guidelines and would "accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law." Trump expressed outrage at the recommended sentence on Tuesday, tweeting, quote, "This is a horrible and very unfair situation.

The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them.

Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!" Hours later, senior Justice Department officials abruptly pulled rank over the prosecutors who tried the case, saying they would seek a lighter sentence for Stone, a self-described "dirty trickster".

By the end of Tuesday, all four federal prosecutors who secured Stone's conviction quit the case, with one resigning from the Justice Department altogether.

The department did not specify a new proposed sentence, but in a court filing said the original recommendation of 7 to 9 years "could be considered excessive and unwarranted." Despite the blow up, Trump says he wasn't involved in seeking a lighter sentence for his friend.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "No I didn't speak to the Justice Department.

I'd be able to do it if I wanted.

I have the absolute right to do it.

I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn't believe." When asked whether he would pardon Stone, Trump declined to say.

Roger Stone will be sentenced later this month.

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