Ex-Roger Stone Prosecutor: DOJ Under ‘Heavy Pressure’ to Spare Trump’s Friend
Drew Angerer / Getty
One of the prosecutors, who left the Roger Stone case out of disgust at the intervention of Attorney General Bill Barr, will tell the House Justice Committee that the "highest levels of division" Stone, a friend of the President, wanted to save years of prison time.
"What I heard repeatedly was that because of his relationship with the President, Roger Stone was treated differently from anyone else," said Aaron Zelinsky, a former Robert Mueller prosecutor.
Zelinsky and three colleagues resigned from the Stone charges in February after Timothy Shea, then serving as the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, recommended a significantly shorter prison sentence than Zelinsky's seven to nine years. Stone was convicted of having lied to Congress for its interactions with WikiLeaks during the 2016 elections, to be witnesses who manipulated and hindered a congressional investigation. Shea was a former Barr senior advisor who now leads the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Zelinsky's statement mentions Shea as "being under pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to take a break from Stone and that the US attorney's instructions to us were based on political considerations." He described the department's pursuit of a sentence that was shorter than its own sentencing guidelines as "outrageous" for an "unrepentant" defendant like Stone, who threatened the judge who would lead his case. Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison.
"I was also told that incumbent US attorney Stone gave such unprecedented low-cost treatment because he was" afraid of the president, "" said Zelinsky of Shea.
Trump ally Roger Stone gets 40 months for lying and witness manipulation
Zelinsky's testimony, which was made after the House Justice Committee was summoned, is at professional risk. He remains a federal attorney in Maryland. A lawyer from Zelinsky, the former office of General Intelligence General Counsel Director Robert Litt, declined to comment.
According to Zelinsky, Shea and his team tried at least three times in February to get Stone prosecutors to agree to a reduced sentence. First, they asked the Zelinsky team not to use the full term proposed in the sentencing guidelines. When Zelinsky - along with Adam Jed, Jonathan Kravis, and Michael Marando - refused, Shea's team told them "to say that Stone should get less, whatever the guidelines recommend." They also refused to do so.
Finally, Shea "gave an order" to remove references to Stone's behavior in court in her conviction record, such as a threat to Berman that Stone posted on Instagram. Zelinsky said in his statement that he threatened to resign on February 10. Trump quickly attacked his team's sentence of conviction as a "judicial error."
Zelinsky criticized the milder memorandum, which Shea's office in an interview with a colleague of the department to whom he referred in his prepared statement, identified as "unethical."
"I am not happy publicly criticizing the actions of the Department of Justice, where I have spent most of my legal career. I have always been proud to be the United States attorney, ”concludes Zelinsky with his comments.
Zelinsky is accompanied by John W. Elias, a DOJ antitrust colleague, who will testify about Barr's antitrust investigation, which troubled him so much that he alerted the department's inspector general. No witnesses from the Department of Justice for Barr or Shea are said to be present at the hearing on Wednesday, although former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is also said to testify.
The committee's democratic majority is in open conflict with Barr above all, from the similar leniency that former national security advisor Mike Flynn has towards Barr's specially represented federal police during the DC Black Lives Matter protests against Barr's fraudulent attempt by the incumbent U.S. attorney York has shown dismissing New. Last month, they requested a general investigation by the Justice Department inspector into Barr's "politicization" of numerous Ministry actions.
But the House Democratic leadership, which has lost its fight against Trump, is reluctant to remove Barr from office - which means Wednesday's hearing with Zelinsky could be a flood mark for pressure on the Attorney General.
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