Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report

Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report
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The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is investigating the department’s intervention in the sentencing of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneOur Constitution is under attack by Attorney General William Barr Justice IG investigating Stone sentencing: report Romney says Trump's protest tweets 'clearly intended to further inflame racial tensions' MORE, 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 because of Stone’s friendship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy MORE.

All four prosecutors working on the case quit after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBarr says Ginsburg 'leaves a towering legacy' Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' Trump doesn't offer vote of confidence for FBI director MORE 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. However, the president commuted his sentence in July before Stone was to report to prison.

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Aaron Zelinsky, one of the prosecutors involved in the case, testified before Congress in June that he had been told to recommend a lighter sentence by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

The U.S. attorney, Zelinsky testified, was "receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break," and his sentencing instructions "were based on political considerations."

Barr defended his intervention in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in July, saying, "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 also cited Stone's age.

A source familiar with the investigation told NBC that Zelinsky’s testimony was the trigger for the probe. The extent of the investigation or whether it has uncovered any wrongdoing was unclear. The sentencing was already the subject of an inquiry by the department’s Office of Personal Responsibility, the two sources told NBC. However, the OIG is required to report its findings to Congress and the public and can refer cases for prosecution.

A spokesperson for the OIG told The Hill it does not confirm or deny the existence of ongoing investigations.

—Updated at 6:16 p.m.