A us prosecutor has said at the Congress that officials of the department of Justice (DOJ) had tried to inappropriately reduce the sanction imposed to the assistant to Trump, Roger Stone.
Aaron Zelinsky has testified that “political considerations” have led the senior officials at the DOJ to ask for a lighter penalty because of his relationship with the president.
A judge sentenced Stone to 40 months for having lied to Congress after the DOJ had lowered his sentence to be recommended.
She intervened after Mr. Trump has attacked the advocacy of sentence initial as an injustice.
The four prosecutors assigned to the case of Stone – including Mr. Zelinsky – have resigned after the conviction to the penalty below.
Also on Wednesday, a federal court has asked the DOJ to drop the charges against the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, another partner of Trump found guilty of lying to investigators in the government. It is in response to a request from the DOJ to drop the case and an attempt by Flynn to change his plea of guilty.
Mr. Zelinsky, an american lawyer deputy in Maryland, who had previously worked on the probe of interference by special counsel Robert Mueller in Russia, said to the legislators of the judicial committee of the House of representatives under democratic control that he felt “strong pressure from the highest levels of the ministry of Justice to cut Stone break” .
He said that he felt obligated to treat Stone differently, and with more indulgence “because of her” relationship with the president “.
The spokesperson for the DOJ, Kerri Kupec, stated that Mr. Zelinsky serves as a prosecutor and has never discussed the matter Stone directly with the attorney-general William Barr, who heads the department of Justice.
“The allegations of Mr. Zelinksy on the motivation of the u.s. attorney based on his own interpretation of the events and hearsay (at best), and not on first-hand knowledge “, she said in a statement.
After that the member of Congress Jerrold Nadler, who oversees the hearing Wednesday, has threatened to force Mr. Barr to testify, the MJ stated that he would speak voluntarily to the committee on 28 July.
What is the context?
Stone was found guilty by 2019 to have lied to the House Intelligence Committee about its attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that published the emails are damaging to the rival democratic party of 2016 Mr. Trump, Hillary Clinton, as well as obstruction and tampering of witnesses.
The prosecutors, including Mr. Zelinsky, have asked a judge to imprison him for at least seven years, but after Mr. Trump went on Twitter to describe the directive of conviction as “horrible and very unfair,” and ” denial of justice “, Mr. Barr has stepped in and has asked for a sentence more lenient.
Since then, Mr. Trump has hinted at a possible pardon for his longtime confidant.
Stone must begin his sentence on 30 June, but on Sunday, he was asked by Facebook to attempt to ” delay the death penalty, which I would order in a prison infested Covid-19 “.
That is what the prosecutors have said else?
Mr. Zelinsky stated to the legislators that he had been compelled to make a note of punishment to the judge for him to request a lighter sentence for Stone. He said that he was told that he could be terminated if he or she wasn’t cooperating.
“In the end, we have refused to amend our memorandum to request a sentence significantly lower “, he said.
“Once again, I was told that the instructions of the u.s. attorney had nothing to do with Mr. Stone, the facts of the case, the law or policy of the department.
“Instead, I was told explicitly that the motivation to change the note of condemnation was political, and because the u.s. attorney was” afraid of the president ” . ”
Mr. Zelinksy was joined at the hearing by John Elias, an official of the antitrust division of the DOJ, who stated that Mr. Barr had instructed his team to investigate a legal business of marijuana in California because he “didn’t like the nature of their underlying business,” according to his opening remarks prepared.
He also said that he had been tasked to investigate an environmental agreement between the us car manufacturers and the State of California after Mr. Trump had been criticized on Twitter.
Donald Ayer, who was deputy attorney general for president George Bush, also took the floor.
Mr. Ayer and Mr. Barr have worked together at GM in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Since then, he has frequently criticized Mr. Barr for his intervention in the case of Stone, as well as the case of general Michael Flynn (retired), who was the first national security adviser to Mr. Trump.
Who is Michael Flynn?
Flynn has left the White House a month after it admitted to having misled the vice-chairman Mike Pence about his conversations with foreign officials.
He was then accused of having lied to FBI investigators about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
But on Wednesday, a federal court of appeal has decided to dismiss the case against Mr. Flynn, following a request of the criticism of the department of Justice to dismiss the charges.
Who is Roger Stone?
Stone has been working with republicans since the 1970s and bears a tattoo of Richard Nixon on the back.
In the 1990s, Stone worked as a lobbyist for the casino business of Mr. Trump, and then helped the White House without success of Mr. Trump to operate in 2000.
According to the documentary Netflix Get Me Roger Stone, the strategist would have encouraged Mr. Trump to stand again for the presidency in 2016.
Why Barr is it under pressure?
Mr. Barr has long been criticized by democrats for his role in several legal battles and policies of large-scale, involving his boss in the White House.
After having received the report of the special council on the interference of the Russian – and before it is made public – he presented a summary of its findings, termed “misleading” by a federal judge, and devoid of “context” by Mr. Mueller himself.
More recently, he has taken his distances in relation to the measures aimed at clearing the park in front of the White House protesters before Mr. Trump to visit a nearby church for a photograph.
In the course of the weekend, he has ordered the dismissal of the u.s. attorney for the southern district of New York, Geoffrey Berman, who had previously ordered investigations into several associates of Trump, his campaign and his presidential administration.
During Wednesday’s hearing, the democrat from Tennessee, Steve Cohen, said that lawmakers ” should prosecute the impeachment against Mr. Barr, because he is raining terror on the rule of law “.
But Mr Barr himself has said in interviews that his service remains independent of any political interference.