(JPDATED) All four prosecutors quit after Trump complaints about Stone sentencing and D.O.J scaled back sentencing recommendation
The 21st century may ultimately be seen as the time when Americans decided to inexorably shift the United States to a different form of government and norms than the Founding Fathers envisioned or wanted. The Founding Fathers’ defect may ultimately be seen as having enormous naivete in assuming that leaders would act in good faith — never foreseeing the rise of rampant political tribalism where the only considerations are one side winning and protecting tribe members.
It’s clear now how democratic norms that proved sturdy and sacred for centuries can be easily finessed, undermined, ignored or destroyed. And we are seeing how the rule of law is not really a rule but but something that can apparently be changed if a powerful President doesn’t like the way he sees how his ally’s case is coming down:
Reports had surfaced that the Department of Justice was planning to scale back its sentencing recommendation for Trump political associate Roger Stone. Trump blasted the original proposal and reports quickly surfaced that the DoJ was going to now change its recommendation for a lower sentence.
“Four federal prosecutors have withdrawn from the case of Roger Stone, after the Justice Department backed off prosecutors’ earlier recommendation for a lengthy prison term for President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser, and as the president himself expressed displeasure with the idea of a stiff sentence.
Jonathan Kravis, the deputy chief of the fraud and public corruption section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, said in a court filing Tuesday afternoon that he has resigned his post. Two former prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller, Aaron Zelinsky and Adam Jed, also notified the court that they were stepping off the case, as did D.C.-based prosecutor Michael Marando.
The extraordinary exit of the entire prosecution team came one day after prosecutors urged that Stone be sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison on his conviction on charges of impeding congressional and FBI investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Following that recommendation, Trump blasted federal prosecutors in an early-morning tweet on Tuesday for urging such a long prison sentence for Stone, the veteran GOP political consultant and provocateur found guilty by a jury last year on seven felony counts brought by former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump expanded on his view while speaking to reporters late Tuesday afternoon, but he denied that he asked the DOJ to change the sentence recommendation.”
Earlier NBC NEWS:
“The lead prosecutor in Roger Stone’s criminal case abruptly resigned from the case on Tuesday after the Justice Department said it planned to reduce the recommended sentence for the longtime Trump associate. UPDATE: Now a total of three prosecutors on the case have resigned.
The Justice Department was pulling back on its request to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”
“The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and will clarify its position later today,” a senior department official confirmed to NBC News.
After the reports of the imminent softer sentencing recommendation, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney has resigned effective immediately.”
Zelinsky, who was a part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. Attorney in Maryland.
Another one of the prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned— both from the case and his job as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.”
Trump in a tweet earlier Tuesday called the department’s initial sentencing proposal “disgraceful!”
“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president wrote in a follow-up post on Twitter. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”
Federal prosecutors sought seven to nine years in prison for Stone in a sentencing memorandum they filed Monday in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors said the recommendation was in line with the sentencing guideline outlined by federal law.
“Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness,” prosecutors wrote in a 26-page memo. “When his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this court and the rule of law.”
Betty Cracker writing on Balloon Juice: “Barr is openly corrupting the DOJ to protect Trump and his criminal cronies. Career DOJ people will have to stand up for the integrity of the organization if they truly believe it’s worth defending.”
Somewhere Sen. Susan Collins is “concerned. Or is she? There has been silence from GOPers on this new development.
Forget about a “Saturday Night massacre.”
We are seeing a February Massacre.
BREAKING: Two DOJ prosecutors who recommended 9 yr sentence for #RogerStone RESIGN after King #Trump undermines them and orders his ass-kissing Court Jester #Barr to ask judge for shorter sentence. The chaos and corruption in @realDonaldTrump administration is staggering…
— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) February 11, 2020
Absolutely abhorrent & stomach churning. The President is once again interfering in the rule of law & Department of Justice. Using his henchman—AG Barr—to overrule front line prosecutors to seek a more lenient sentence for a political ally. https://t.co/Dftw5hFvRr
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) February 11, 2020
AUSA Jon Kravis is an outstanding, honorable, ethical career public servant & one of the country’s best Public Corruption prosecutors. He’s also my former colleague from our Homicide Section days at the DC USAO. Trump/Barr are destroying the DOJ & ruining lives. THIS. MUST. STOP. pic.twitter.com/dWJtawZvsO
— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) February 11, 2020
At least there was one person who couldn’t stand the corruption in the DOJ. He’ll probably be targeted for retaliation by the Trump thugs now. https://t.co/Dd510u8E2c
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) February 11, 2020
-deceived us @ Mueller report
-is investigating those who probed Trump
-asked foreign govts for intel on CIA/FBI
-set up a way to accept dirt on Biden from Giuliani
-kept the whistleblower complaint from Congress
-cast doubt on an IG report
-retracted recommendation on Stone https://t.co/joTjXWvHZ9
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) February 11, 2020
Speaking of #RogerStone, he comes from the #Nixon tradition of active (non-Russian) efforts to sow havoc in the #Dem #race. #Trump worships Nixonian tactics and, having hurt #Biden, will try to do the same to @MikeBloomberg by giving ammo to Mike’s foes, including #Bernie.
— Howard Fineman (@howardfineman) February 11, 2020