Three career supervisors in the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office are challenging the sworn congressional testimony provided by a prosecutor on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team about Roger Stone, The Washington Post reports.
According to people familiar with the situation, three supervisors are disputing what prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky told the House Judiciary Committee in June. They told Justice Department officials that Zelinsky mischaracterized communications that involved undue political pressure in the case against Stone.
The prosecutor told lawmakers that he felt politics influenced the prison sentence recommended for the president’s longtime friend.
Stone was convicted of lying to lawmakers looking into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Zelinsky and other prosecutors proposed a jail sentence of 7 to 9 years for Stone.
After the president tweeted about the case, Attorney General Bill Barr stepped in and had the Justice Department propose a lesser sentence. Ultimately, Trump commuted Stone’s sentence.
When Barr intervened, all four career prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Zelinsky quit the case.
Sources told the newspaper that some supervisors privately reported they disagreed with Zelinsky’s testimony. Sources told the Post that they felt Zelinsky had not accurately described what they conveyed.
Now, the Justice Department inspector general’s office is looking into the matter. The newspaper reports the office has contacted at least one of the prosecutors involved in the Stone case.
Zelinsky’s lawyer Robert Litt told the Post his client “stands by his testimony and the Mueller report.”
He declined to comment on whether Zelinsky had been approached by the inspector general. Marando’s lawyer told the newspaper his client had been approached by the inspector general’s office but declined to comment further.
During his testimony, Zelinsky told lawmakers that he did not discuss the Stone case directly with Barr, Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, or then-acting U.S. Attorney Tim Shea. He said it was his supervisors who explained why the department was “treating Roger Stone differently from everyone else.”
“And what I heard repeatedly was that this leniency was happening because of Stone’s relationship to the president; that the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice, and that his instructions to us were based on political considerations,” Zelinsky testified. “And I was told that the acting U.S. attorney was giving Stone a break because he was afraid of the president.”
During his testimony, he mentioned he spoke with fraud chief J.P. Cooney. He said Cooney was the person who said Shea was “afraid of the president” and that the reason for changing the prosecutors’ recommendation was political.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told the newspaper the department welcomes the inspector general’s review of how officials handled the case.
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