On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced that he had given “authorization” for a prison sentence of 10 years to be handed down to any protesters caught defacing statues of slave owners who also happen to be historical figures. If you’re one of Trump’s friends, however, he believes you should get as little time as possible for literally threatening to kill a witness in a criminal case against you, as well as the witness’s therapy dog.
NEWS: Aaron ZELINSKY, a prosecutor in Stone's case, describes significant political pressure in DOJ.
"What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President."https://t.co/dKMzqhppK3
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 23, 2020
Two whistleblowers, Assistant United States Attorney Aaron S. J. Zelinsky and John Elias, an attorney in the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, will be speaking to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about Trump’s Department of Justice and their behind-the-scenes work to reduce the sentence of longtime Trump friend and informal advisor to the 2016 Trump campaign, Roger Stone. Stone has been charged with five counts of giving false testimony, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding.
Stone was caught lying to Congress about his communications with Wikileaks during the 2016 Trump campaigns, working as a liaison to Julian Assange while he planned to release stolen documents hacked from DNC computer servers to embarrass and hurt the campaign of Hillary Clinton. Stone first bragged in a campaign event that he was the liaison, then told Congress he wasn’t, then was exposed as having told the truth the first time. When brought up on charges of lying, a witness named Randy Credico was called to testify against him. Stone was recorded during a call to Credico’s home threatening to kill him and hurt his therapy dog.
A copy of Zelinsky’s opening statement has been released and says:
‘The first thing every AUSA learns is that we have an ethical and legal obligation to treat every defendant equally and fairly. No one is entitled to more or less because of who they are, who they know, or what they believe. In the United States of America, we do not prosecute people because of their politics.
‘And we don’t cut them a break because of their politics either. In the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone.’
Roger Stone lied to our committee to protect Trump and he was convicted.
But Bill Barr intervened to benefit Trump’s friend and get him a lighter sentence.
This runs counter to every American principle of impartial justice.
Barr’s conduct is disgraceful. He should resign. https://t.co/REu7tTjtPC
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 23, 2020
Prosecutors in Stone’s case recommended on February 10, 2020 a sentence of seven to nine years in prison once Stone was convicted. Later that night, Trump tweeted about the “miscarriage of justice” committed in Stone’s case with the sentencing recommendation and complained that the whole case was just another political hit job. Shortly afterward, the judge struck down prosecutors’ request and sentenced Stone to just under three years in prison, prompting all four federal prosecutors to resign from the case in protest.
Zelinsky’s statement describes the unusual and outrageous moves by the Trump administration, and DOJ Attorney General William Barr, to interfere in Stone’s case.
‘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. Such pressure resulted in the virtually unprecedented decision to override the original sentencing…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.”’
Even worse for President Trump, new information on the Russian collusion scandal will be released during Zelinsky’s testimony that says Trump was well aware of Stone’s actions and may have been directing him to collude with Wikileaks and Russia.
‘That summer, Stone wasn’t just talking to the CEO, Chairman, and Deputy Chairman of the campaign. He was talking directly to then-candidate Trump himself.’
William Barr, meanwhile, is also under investigation for obstructing justice by the House Judiciary Committee for his firing of U.S. Attorney General Berman from the SDNY while he was investigating Trump’s newest attorney and “fixer,” Rudy Giuliani.
.@Maddow: "The one way William Barr most badly botched this whole thing is that he forgot to come up with any explanation for why he was trying to fire that prosecutor … and now Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler says he has opened an investigation." https://t.co/sesa0AVNqf
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 23, 2020
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