Trump praises Barr, attacks prosecutors in Roger Stone case

DOJ had intervened to revise the sentence suggested for Stone by the department’s own prosecutors, prompting outrage.

roger stone
The DOJ intervened after prosecutors recommended seven to nine years in prison for Roger Stone [File: Julio Cortez/The Associated Press]

US President Donald Trump has praised Attorney General William Barr, while attacking the federal prosecutors who resigned after the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in the recommended sentencing of Republican operative Roger Stone. 

The DOJ officials stepped in after federal prosecutors recommended that Stone, who helped Trump’s rise to power, face sentencing within federal guidelines of seven to nine years following his conviction on charges that include lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House of Representatives investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election

Stone, who has labelled himself a “dirty trickster” and “agent provocateur” and famously has the face of former President Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, was one of several Trump associates charged with crimes in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. Mueller’s final report concluded that the president did not collude with Russia in the meddling and the president has repeatedly called the investigation a “witch-hunt”. 

The DOJ move, which undermined its own prosecutors – who were following institutional guidelines, has prompted accusations of political interference in the justice system. DOJ officials have said they made the decision without consulting the president. Trump, for his part, has said he did not instruct the DOJ in the matter, while contending he has the right to do so. 

“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

Following the DOJ’s intervention, prosecutors Michael Marando, Aaron Zelinsky, John Crabb and Jonathan Kravis, who won Stone’s conviction, all withdrew from the case. Kravis told the court in a filing he was not only leaving the case but quitting his post as a federal prosecutor.

“Who are the four prosecutors (Mueller people?) who cut and ran after being exposed for recommending a ridiculous 9 year prison sentence to a man that got caught up in an investigation that was illegal, the Mueller Scam, and shouldn’t ever even have started?” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. 

He followed up on Wednesday by describing the DOJ employees as “rogue prosecutors”.

In tweets, Trump also targeted the judge in the case, who is set to make the final decision on Stone’s sentence on February 20, while retweeting a post that urged a full pardon of Stone as well as another former Trump adviser, Michael Flynn.

Democrats have called for an investigation into the DOJ’s actions. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies