President Donald Trump offered congratulations Wednesday to Attorney General William Barr for “taking charge” of the Roger Stone case, in which federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., lowered a prison sentence recommendation for the longtime Trump confidante.
“Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought,” Trump tweeted. “Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!”
Trump’s remarks follow a chaotic 24 hours in Stone’s legal saga.
Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., recommended Monday that Stone, 67, serve up to nine years in prison on false statements and witness tampering charges related to the special counsel’s probe. Prosecutors argued that threatening messages that Stone sent in 2018 to an associate, Randy Credico, warranted a significant enhancement to his prison sentence.
The same office revised the recommendation Tuesday and said Stone’s crimes merit jail time, but “far less” than the 87-108 months that prosecutors suggested the day before.
Prosecutors said in the new filing that the enhancement for Stone’s messages to Credico would have added five years to the prison recommendation. They also noted that Credico, a left-wing radio host who has worked with Stone since 2002, testified at Stone’s trial that he did not take Stone’s threats seriously. (RELATED: In Reversal, Feds Say Roger Stone Deserves ‘Far Less’ Than 9 Years In Prison)
A lot happened in between the two sentencing recommendation filings.
Trump blasted the initial recommendation on Twitter, calling it “disgraceful” and a “miscarriage of justice.”
By Tuesday morning, the Justice Department signaled that it was unhappy with the recommendation. A senior official at the agency told reporters that prosecutors would be submitting a revised recommendation later in the day and that the proposed jail sentence was higher than had been briefed to Justice Department officials.
Before that filing was submitted, four prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case, seemingly in protest over the revision.
Shortly after, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington submitted a new recommendation.
The government attorneys took issue with an enhancement that prosecutors initially suggested should be added to Stone’s sentence, which would have increased his jail time by up to five years. Prosecutors said in the new filing that the enhancement was usually reserved for cases involving violent crime.
It is unclear exactly what role Barr and officials at Justice Department headquarters played in the revision.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Wednesday that Trump did not speak with Barr before the decision. A Justice Department official told reporters Tuesday that the decision to change the sentencing recommendation was made before Trump’s tweetstorm.
U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea, who took over earlier in February, and Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen argued before the initial filing was submitted that a prison term of 87-108 months was too harsh, The New York Times reported.
The line prosecutors who ultimately submitted the initial court filing were also not in agreement on how much jail time to recommend, according to The Times.
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