The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate called for an investigation into the decision to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a former adviser to President Donald Trump.
Prosecutors asked a judge this week to sentence Stone, 67, to seven to nine years in prison for making false statements to Congress, obstructing a congressional investigation, and tampering with a witness. But the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a memo recommending a sentence “far less” than seven to nine years, though it is still recommending some jail time.
The four prosecutors working on the case resigned after the memo was filed. Two worked on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which ended after establishing no conspiracy or cooperation between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there should be an “immediate investigation” of why the sentencing recommendations by the prosecutors were overruled by DOJ officials.
In a Feb. 11 letter to the department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, Schumer alleged that the situation “has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution.”
Horowitz should investigate the matter to figure out “how and why the Stone sentencing recommendations were countermanded,” including which DOJ officials made the decision and which officials, if any, were involved, the 69-year-old senator wrote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), 79, also called for a probe into what happened, claiming Trump, 73, “engaged in political interference in the sentencing of Roger Stone” when he wrote on Twitter about the case.
“It is outrageous that DOJ has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing its recommendation. Stepping down of prosecutors should be commended & actions of DOJ should be investigated,” she wrote in a statement on Twitter.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), 72, another top Democrat in the House, charged that Trump and Attorney General William Barr, 69, overruled career prosecutors to help Stone.
“The Committee will get to the bottom of this,” Nadler wrote in a statement.
The DOJ’s revised sentencing recommendation came just hours after Trump wrote on Twitter about the original recommendation: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation.”
“The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice,” the president wrote.
The recommendation to issue a revised recommendation came before Trump’s tweet, a DOJ spokeswoman told news outlets on Tuesday. She said there wasn’t any contact between the department and the White House before the decision to file the memo was made.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he didn’t speak with department officials about the sentencing recommendation, though he argued that he had the “absolute right” to get involved. He declined to answer directly if he would pardon Stone.
Trump early Wednesday wrote on Twitter: “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!”