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US Justice Department internal watchdog is investigating Roger Stone's sentencing, say sources

00:16  15 september  2020
00:16  15 september  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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In an extraordinary move, all four federal prosecutors who took the case against longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone to trial withdrew Tuesday after top Justice Department officials undercut them and disavowed the government' s recommended sentence against Stone .

Justice Department officials did not discuss the case with anyone at the White House, including the president, said Kerri Kupec, a department As is customary in prominent prosecutions, the line prosecutors on the Stone case discussed their proposed sentencing recommendation with senior

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General has begun investigating the circumstances surrounding the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

a man talking on a cell phone © Provided by NBC News

The investigation is focused on events in February, according to the two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, when prosecutors for Stone have said they were told to seek a lighter sentence for Stone than they had previously considered.

Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report

  Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report The Justice Department's Office of Inspector General is investigating the department's intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, NBC News reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.The two sources said the probe will focus on a period in February when prosecutors have said they were told to recommend a lighter sentence due to Stone's friendship with President Trump.All four prosecutors working on the case quit after Attorney General William Barr overrode the prosecutorial recommendation of seven to nine years. Stone was sentenced to 40 months on seven felony convictions, including lying to investigators and witness tampering.

After the Department of Justice overruled a sentencing recommendation made by prosecutors in the case of President Trump’ s longtime associate Roger Stone , Speaker Pelosi asserted on Thursday that the reversal represented another “abuse of power” that must be investigated by Congress.

The Justice Department ’ s internal watchdog will try to figure out whether warrants to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page were properly obtained by Mr Papadopoulos claimed in an interview with the FBI that he had made contacts with Russian sources before joining the Trump campaign, but he

One of those prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, testified before Congress in June that he was told by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to recommend a lighter sentence for Stone than he otherwise would have because of Stone's close personal relationship with Trump.

Zelinsky said the U.S. Attorney, Timothy Shea, 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."

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" Roger Stone obstructed Congress' investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election Stone then told the Congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the election five In Stone ' s sentencing memorandum, his lawyers said he should receive no more than 15 months in

Began Long Before Stone Sentencing . Months of strain date back to the investigation into the former F.B.I. official WASHINGTON — In the days before they filed the sentencing recommendation for President Trump’ s friend Roger J. Stone Jr. that helped plunge the Justice Department into turmoil

Attorney General William Barr ultimately intervened to override the prosecutors' recommendation of seven to nine years and ask for a lighter sentence. All four prosecutors quit the case as a result. The career prosecutors had recommended the longer sentence in accordance with a 2017 policy put forth by Trump‘s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, which requires prosecutors to seek the maximum sentence called for under the guidelines unless there are significant mitigating circumstances.

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Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone is connected to investigations Robert Mueller sent to other prosecutors and that continue despite the special counsel having finished his work, the Justice Department said Friday in a new court filing.

The top prosecutor of Roger Stone -- who quit the Justice Department when his superiors overruled his team's work on the case before Stone ' s sentencing -- slammed Attorney General William Barr for influencing cases against President Donald Trump's friends and accused him of undermining the

One source familiar with the matter said comments made by Zelinsky during his testimony triggered the Inspector General's Office to open an investigation. It is not known how far the Office of the Inspector General has proceeded in its investigation, who they have interviewed or whether they have found any evidence of wrongdoing.

A federal jury convicted Stone of seven felonies after a trial in which prosecutors accused him of lying to Congress and intimidating a witness. They said he was trying to protect President Trump by misleading a Congressional investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Zelinsky, who prosecuted the Stone case as part of his work with special counsel Robert Mueller, He said the U.S. Attorney, Timothy Shea 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."

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Roger Stone Leaves Courthouse After Sentencing . “I’m not at liberty to discuss internal deliberations,” he said when the judge pressed him for details. “I apologize.” Judge Jackson said she agreed with the Justice Department ’ s second memo that the sentencing guidelines were too harsh.

The Justice Department ' s inspector general has informed lawmakers that a trove of missing text "The OIG has been investigating this matter and, this week, succeeded in using forensic tools to The texts themselves were first discovered as part of an internal investigation by the inspector Sources told CNN on Wednesday that about one in 10 FBI phones were affected by the glitch

A spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which Shea now runs, declined to comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the inspector general said the office does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations.

On July 10, President Trump commuted Stone's sentence to ensure he would not serve the 40-month prison term handed down by the court.

Uproar after Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence
  Justice Department internal watchdog is investigating Roger Stone's sentencing, say sources NBC News See more videos
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Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28, Barr defended his involvement in the sentencing. He said that Stone’s age, 67, made it unfair for him to be sentenced for so long for a non-violent crime.

"I agree the president's friends don't deserve special breaks, but they also don't deserve to be treated more harshly than other people," Barr said.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility began an inquiry into what transpired around the time of Stone's sentencing, including whether there were leaks to the media, according to two sources familiar with the matter. But the recent involvement of the department's inspector general carries additional weight because the inspector general is independent, required to report to Congress and must publicly post findings of misconduct. If warranted, the inspector general can refer a case to a U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecution.

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