Roger Stone Prosecutor Says DOJ Leaders Applied ‘Heavy Pressure’ To Cut Him A Break

Top Justice Department leadership put “heavy pressure” on a top federal prosecutor to cut former Donald Trump aide Roger Stone a break in his sentencing, a former prosecutor on the case plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Aaron S.J. Zelinsky will tell Congress that he repeatedly heard that Stone “was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President,” according to prepared testimony.

Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering, ultimately received a sentence of 40 months in prison after DOJ leadership intervened in the case.

Zelinksy will say that Stone’s case was handled in an “unusual and unprecedented way” and that leadership put “significant pressure” on line prosecutors 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.”

Zelinsky will tell the House Judiciary Committee that acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea, a close associate of Attorney General William Barr, “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,’” Zelinsky will testify.

“To be clear, my concern is not with this sentencing outcome,” Zelinsky will tell lawmakers. “It is about the process and the fact that the Department of Justice treated Roger Stone differently and more leniently in ways that are virtually, if not entirely, unprecedented.”

Zelinsky will say that he has “never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making … with one exception: United States v. Roger Stone.”

When a supervisor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia thanked Zelinsky for his work on the case, Zelinsky said he responded that he continued to believe that “changing a sentencing recommendation based on political considerations and the fact that the U.S. attorney was ‘afraid of the President’ (in your words) was wrong, contrary to DOJ policy, and unethical, at a minimum.”

Another Justice Department official in the antitrust division will testify that Attorney General William Barr intervened in cases involving marijuana company mergers because “the cannabis industry is unpopular ‘on the fifth floor,’ a reference to Attorney General Barr’s offices in the DOJ headquarters building.” 

Read Zelinsky’s opening statement below.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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