Watchdog seeks records on DOJ's Roger Stone sentencing reversal

Watchdog seeks records on DOJ's Roger Stone sentencing reversal
© Aaron Schwartz

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog group, is requesting records from the Department of Justice (DOJ) after federal prosecutors recommended a sentencing reduction for former Trump campaign adviser 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.

CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Tuesday seeking all records of communications between the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is handling Stone's case.

Prosecutors initially recommended seven to nine years in prison, but the Justice Department later said in a court memo that it was calling for "far less" than the previous range. Four prosecutors who made the initial sentencing recommendations have since left the case.

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The developments come just hours after 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 tweeted on Tuesday morning that the first sentencing recommendation was “very unfair” and that such a “miscarriage of justice” should not be allowed. When asked in December if he would pardon Stone, Trump said he hadn't though about it but described him as a "good person."

Stone was convicted in November of seven counts of obstructing and lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to provide the Trump campaign inside information about WikiLeaks in 2016.

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In the sentencing recommendation, the government first wrote that seven to nine years in prison “accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law.” Stone’s attorneys in a Monday night filing asked that the judge impose probation as an alternative to prison.

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 20 by D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee.

CREW has previously filed FOIA requests seeking information on Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Former Laura Bush staffer decries Taliban's treatment of women amid peace deal Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE removing an NPR reporter from an overseas trip. The group has also asked a federal judge to force the White House to preserve all records of communications between Trump and foreign leaders.

Another D.C. watchdog group, Restore Public Trust (RPT), also filed a FOIA request to the DOJ requesting documents related to Stone’s case and called for a congressional investigation into the move by DOJ. 

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify MORE (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the DOJ’s decision, adding that  “Committee will get to the bottom of this.”