This followed pressure from President Donald Trump and the U.S. Justice Department, seeking a shorter prison term for the convicted Stone.
The four prosecutors who won Stone’s conviction – Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando and Jonathan Kravis – in court filing withdrew from the case. Kravis told the court that he was also quitting his job as a federal prosecutor.
Senior department officials – hours after Trump complained on Twitter that Stone was being treated unfairly – overrode the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years made on Monday by the federal prosecutors who secured Stone’s conviction. Stone was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.
In a new court filing, a Justice Department official who had not previously worked on the case called that recommendation “excessive and unwarranted” and said the department would not make a formal sentencing recommendation.
Democrats blasted the department’s shift in the high-profile case involving Stone, whose friendship with Trump dates back decades. Stone’s trial arose from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump’s candidacy.
Trump told reporters he thought the initial recommendation was “ridiculous” but said he did not speak to the Justice Department about it.
“I’d be able to do it if I wanted. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things,” Trump said.
Trump also withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu, a former U.S. attorney in Washington whose office prosecuted Stone, for the post of Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes, a source familiar with the matter said.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK