x
Breaking News
More () »

Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

Roger Stone received preferential treatment by DOJ, ex-prosecutor says

A prosecutor who worked on the Roger Stone case said Department of Justice leadership intervened in the case because of Stone's relationship to President Trump.

A prosecutor who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller's team during the FBI's Russia probe will testify Wednesday that Roger Stone was "treated differently" by the Department of Justice due to his ties with President Donald Trump, according to a copy of his opening statement. 

Career Justice Department prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky is expected to testify on the politicization by the DOJ on the treatment of Roger Stone, a former Trump advisor who was convicted on several charges in April. 

In his opening statement, submitted Tuesday to the House Judiciary Committee ahead of Wednesday's hearing, Zelinsky wrote that Stone received preferential treatment. 

"I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone," according to a copy of Zelinsky's opening statement.

Zelinsky was one of the four lawyers who prosecuted Stone and quit the case after the Justice Department overruled them and said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for the president’s longtime ally and confidant. Zelinsky currently works in the U.S. attorney's office in Maryland.

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

Prosecutors initially recommended he be sentenced to nine years in prison. But just hours before sentencing on Feb. 20, the Justice Department leadership backed away from that just hours after Trump tweeted his displeasure, saying the proposed punishment had been too harsh. Trump's tweeting led to a brief flare-up between him and Attorney General William Barr.

Stone was sentenced to serve more than three years in prison plus two years’ probation and a $20,000 fine.

"What I saw was the Department of Justice exerting significant pressure on the line prosecutors in the case 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 is planning to testify. "What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President."

RELATED: Fauci hopeful for COVID-19 vaccine by end of the year or early 2021

RELATED: A side-by-side look at police reform bills in Congress

A former official — Donald Ayer, who served as deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and is a frequent critic of Barr — is also scheduled to appear before the committee at the June 24 hearing.

Credit: AP
Roger Stone, longtime friend and confidant of President Donald Trump, waits to speak to members of the media in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted on charges brought as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Stone is scheduled to report to prison by the end of the month, but there is the possibility that Trump could step in and pardon him before hand. Earlier this month, Trump retweeted a conservative activist who was calling for a full pardon of Stone. "Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!" Trump added in a tweet.