Prosecutor withdraws from Roger Stone case

A Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor who asked a judge to sentence Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial Stone juror: Trump 'attacking citizens for performing their civic duty' The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate MORE to between seven and nine years in prison has withdrawn from the former Trump aide's case after reports that officials would seek to reduce the sentencing recommendation.

The withdrawal by prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky on Tuesday came after the initial sentencing guidance was sharply criticized by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE, raising questions about potential political interference in the sentencing of Stone. Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering.

It's unclear if Zelinsky's move was done of his own volition. Zelinsky declined a request for comment.


Earlier Tuesday, multiple outlets reported that DOJ officials would seek to change the sentencing recommendations because top officials found it to be "excessive."

Those reports came after Trump blasted the initial guidelines on Twitter, saying that Stone had been treated unfairly.

"This is a horrible and very unfair situation," the president tweeted. "The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"

The move by the DOJ was seen by critics as a sharp rebuke to career prosecutors.

Stone, 67, was convicted of seven counts of obstructing and lying to Congress and witness tampering over his efforts during the 2016 campaign to get the Trump campaign information about WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors had made the recommendation of 87 to 108 months in prison to D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, based on federal guidelines.


Stone's lawyers asked the judge to give their client probation instead of prison time.

Stone's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20.

Updated at 3:54 p.m.