Schumer Calls For Investigation of DOJ Involvement in Stone Sentencing

February 12, 2020 by Dan McCue
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) discusses the Senate impeachment trial at a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the department’s interference in the sentencing of former Trump insider Roger Stone.

Schumer sent his written request to Inspector General Michael Horowitz after a key prosecutor resigned and another withdrew from the case following the Justice Department’s intervention in their sentencing recommendation.

Federal prosecutors in Washington asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson late Monday to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison for trying to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened Trump.

President Trump himself responded to the recommendation on Twitter, calling it “horrible and very unfair” and a “miscarriage of justice.”

Shortly thereafter, Justice Department officials said they would overrule the prosecutors and recommend a more lenient sentence.

Speaking at the White House Tuesday afternoon Trump said he had no direct conversations with the Justice Department about the matter.

The Justice Department said the decision to shorten the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night — before Trump’s tweet — and also said prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.

In his letter to Horowitz, Schumer said the “situation” he’s been reading about in the press “has all the indicia of improper political interference in a criminal prosecution.”

“I therefore request that you immediately investigate this matter to determine how and why the Stone sentencing recommendations were countermanded, which Justice Department officials made this decision, and which White House officials were involved,” he wrote.

It is extremely rare for Justice Department leaders to reverse the decision of its own prosecutors on a sentencing recommendation, particularly after that recommendation has been submitted to the court.

Schumer suggested the move raised questions about political interference and whether Trump’s views hold unusual sway over the Justice Department, which is meant to operate independently of the White House in criminal investigations and prosecutions.

“The American people must have confidence that justice in this country is dispensed impartially,” he wrote.  “That confidence cannot be sustained if the president or his political appointees are permitted to interfere in prosecution and sentencing recommendations in order to protect their friends and associates. I urge you to conduct an expedited review of this urgent matter and issue a public report with your findings and recommendations as soon as possible.”

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