Trump Says He Didn’t Speak to DOJ Before Stone Sentence Reversal

Josh Wingrove

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump said he didn’t speak to the Justice Department before it signaled it would overrule federal prosecutors and reduce a requested prison sentence for Roger Stone, one of the president’s longtime associates.

Trump called prosecutors’ initial recommendation for a sentence of seven to nine years for Stone “ridiculous” and “an insult to our country.” He said prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to Stone, as well as the president’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and others.

“I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe, but I didn’t speak to them,” Trump said of the Justice Department. “I thought the recommendation was ridiculous, I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous.”

He would not say whether he would commute any sentence for Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress and other charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

But on Twitter Tuesday night, he lashed out at the federal judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, who also presided at one of the trials of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort. In a later tweet, he attacked the prosecutors.

All four of Stone’s federal prosecutors resigned from the case on Tuesday after a Justice Department official said their sentencing recommendation would be reduced.

Trump previewed his possible intervention in Stone’s case early Tuesday in a tweet.

Stone is to be sentenced by Jackson in U.S. District Court in Washington on Feb. 20. Judges have leeway in deciding on a sentence and aren’t compelled to adhere to Justice Department recommendations.

The government said in a sentencing memorandum on Monday that Stone merited a tough prison term because he posted an image of the judge overseeing his case with cross-hairs next to her head. He also violated a court order by repeatedly posting about the case on social media.

But following Trump’s tweet, the Justice Department official said the agency will now propose a shorter sentence for Stone. A new brief filed Tuesday recommended a prison term of three to four years.

Bruce Rogow, Stone’s lawyer, declined to comment on a possible sentencing change.

One of the prosecutors who resigned from the case, Aaron Zelinsky, will continue working as a federal prosecutor in Maryland, according to a person familiar with the matter. A second prosecutor who resigned, Jonathan Kravis, said he quit his job as an assistant U.S. attorney.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the other two prosecutors who resigned, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, will remain with the Justice Department.

(Updates with Trump tweet attacking prosecutors, in fifth paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Josh Wingrove in Washington at jwingrove4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Kevin Whitelaw, John Harney

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