Schumer, Blumenthal Call for Investigations Into DOJ Involvement in Roger Stone's Sentencing

By Susan Jones | February 12, 2020 | 7:40am EST
Roger Stone is a longtime friend of President Trump. (Photo by Mark Wilson/AFP via Getty Images)
Roger Stone is a longtime friend of President Trump who Stone tried to get information from WikiLeaks that would help the Trump campaign. (Photo by Mark Wilson/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are among the first Democrats to demand an investigation into the Justice Department’s recommendation that Trump associate Roger Stone face fewer years in prison than career prosecutors wanted.

Four of the federal prosecutors quit the case on Tuesday, apparently to protest interference by the Justice Department, after President Donald Trump tweeted his outrage on Tuesday – and again on Wednesday.

“This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Stone was convicted in federal court in November of obstructing a congressional investigation, making false statements to Congress, and witness tampering. Career prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 7 to 9 years.

Schumer, in a Feb. 11 letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, wrote, “This situation has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution.”

The suggestion is that Attorney General William Barr is acting on the wishes of the president by recommending a reduced sentence for Stone.

Trump was still tweeting about it on Wednesday morning:

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. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!

Two months in jail for a Swamp Creature, yet 9 years recommended for Roger Stone (who was not even working for the Trump Campaign). Gee, that sounds very fair! Rogue prosecutors maybe? The Swamp! @foxandfriends @TuckerCarlson

Schumer is demanding that the DOJ IG “immediately investigate this matter to determine how and why the Stone sentencing recommendations were countermanded, which Justice Department officials made this decision, and which White House officials were involved.”

Appearing on CNN Tuesday night, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also demand an IG investigation as well as a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee:

I have called for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Justice. I'm also going to call for hearings by Senator Graham as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee where I serve. He owes it to the committee to have hearings immediately.

And let me just emphasize, Jake, this political interference by the president of the United States using the attorney general as his henchman is not only an insult to the career dedicated prosecutors but also to the jurors, ordinary Americans who served on that jury and convicted Roger Stone of nine serious felonies. It is absolutely unprecedented in recent history.

CNN’s Jake Tapper told Blumenthal that some “legal experts,” including one from CNN, have agreed that seven to nine years for Stone is too harsh a sentence.

“If that sentence is too harsh, the judge is the one to make that decision,” Blumenthal said:

That's the way our judicial system works. The prosecutors make recommendations about the seriousness of the crime, and the judge can show mercy if there are mitigating circumstances, if his age or the circumstance of the crime argue for a lesser sentence.

But the president of the United States saying the crime was on the other side, meaning it was not Roger Stone, it was the Department of Justice that committed the crime? Absolutely abhorrent and stomach-churning.

And today, if he needed any other signal, the attorney general got it from the president when he called that prosecution ridiculous. I have never seen anything like it. I served as U.S. Attorney in Connecticut for four and a half years. I still have the Department of Justice Seal on my wall because I have the utmost admiration for those four prosecutors who resigned in protest. They are profiles in courage.

In a brief comment to reporters on Tuesday, President Trump said he did not speak to Barr about Stone’s sentencing, although he said he has the "absolute right" to do that.

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokesperson, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday afternoon that DOJ officials did not discuss their recommendation for a lesser sentence with the White House:

According to The Daily Beast:

She (Kupec) also said the decision was not a response to the president’s tweet, and that Barr was not aware of Trump’s views before the department decided to override the recommendation. That decision was made on Monday night, she said.

A senior DOJ official echoed that statement, saying Trump's tweet had nothing to do with the decision to override the recommendation, and called it “an inconvenient coincidence.” The official also said Tuesday was not an easy day, and that the way the events of the last 24 hours played out was "not ideal."


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