House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Tuesday that it would be an "blatant abuse of power" if President Donald Trump had intervened to lower the Justice Department's suggested prison sentence for Trump's friend and adviser Roger Stone. A source told Fox that the sentence recommendation was "extreme, excessive, and grossly disproportionate" to Stone's crimes.
The Justice Department plans to refile the recommendation later Tuesday, the official said. Stone's sentencing is scheduled for February 20.
Stone was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. Prosecutors originally recommended Stone serve 7-9 years in federal prison, per AP.
Hours afters news reports about the Justice Department's impending move, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky, one of the prosecutors who tried Stone, indicated that he was withdrawing from the case and resigning from his position.
"This is a terrible and very unfair situation", the Republican president wrote on Twitter early on Tuesday about Stone, a friend of his for decades. "The sentencing recommendation was not what had been briefed to the Department". The filing notes that this recommendation is "consistent with the applicable advisory Guidelines". "The office doesn't look good in that regard", said Channing Phillips, a former U.S. Attorney under Democratic President Barack Obama. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them.
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The government said in its memorandum on Monday that Stone merited a tougher sentence because after he was indicted he posted an image of the judge overseeing the case with crosshairs next to her head.
Trump has also called Stone a "nice guy" who "got hit very hard" as part of a "big hoax" that has involved the arrest of five others connected to him and his 2016 campaign.
Stone has denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. It is against this backdrop that Stone's crimes - his obstruction, lies and witness tampering - must be judged. However he began urgent Credico to dealer a contact, and Credico testified that he advised Stone to work by his personal middleman.
Prosecutors also charged that Stone had threatened Credico's therapy dog, Bianca, saying he was "going to take that dog away from you".