Dept. of Justice Inspector General Investigating Circumstances of Roger Stone Sentencing Dispute

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

 

Frankly, I don’t want to go through all the details of this again — so I won’t.

But I did so already in the following locations — it’s a great story and if you haven’t read it I would encourage you to do so.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

A member of the Special Counsel’s Office, Aaron Zelinsky — one of the younger prosecutors who was left behind to finish the Roger Stone case after the Special Counsel’s Office closed up shop– went public with a complaint that political influence had played a role in the changing of the Government’s Sentencing Statement, removing the recommendation by the Trial Team that Stone be sentenced to between seven and nine years in custody.  That recommendation was replaced by one signed by the Acting US Attorney which made no specific recommendation on the length of time to which Stone should be sentenced — leaving that question to the Court — but suggesting that an “enhancement” under the sentencing guidelines for Stone having made a “threat of physical violence” in an effort to obstruct witness testimony before Congress, led to a sentencing recommendation that was far more severe than other similar cases in other parts of the country.

The four prosecutors who were part of the trial team — three confirmed Democrat partisans and one “career” guy with the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all withdrew from the case, and the sentencing hearing went forward with supervisors from the US Attorney’s Office standing in.  The Judge ended up disagreeing with the position of the trial team in the Sentencing Statement that was withdrawn and agreeing with the substituted Statement filed at Attorney General Barr’s direction. She then sentenced Stone to 40 months in custody which was consistent with the position advocated by the Barr -directed Statement.

Several months ago Zelinsky decided he needed to have a “Star Turn” with congressional testimony of his own on the subject of “politicization” of the Justice Department by Attorney General Barr.  He made claims about political influence having been brought to bear on the Acting United States Attorney to withdraw the trial team’s Sentencing Statement, claiming that pressure came from Main Justice in order to make President Trump happy after he had publicly criticized the trial team’s effort to have Stone sentenced to 7-9 years.  But his testimony was full of holes, innuendo, and speculation about the supposed “political interference” in order to please President Trump.  He didn’t actually talk to any senior DOJ official on the subject, and he wasn’t sure what form that pressure was supposed to have taken.

The problem for him now is that the specific individuals he identified as having been the source of the information Zelinsky said he relied upon have all come out and accused him of mischaracterizing what they said.

It seems that Mr. Zelinsky, who convicted Roger Stone for lying to Congress — or I should say he was one of FOUR Justice Department lawyers who tried a case that lasted FOUR days and involved calling only FIVE witnesses — may have his own problems concerning answers he gave to questions asked during his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

Aaron Zelinsky is a young prosecutor who was in way over his head in swimming with the SCO sharks that Mueller picked.  Zelinsky was hired as a newby ASUA in the District of Maryland by Rod Rosenstein, and he was brought into the SCO investigation as a favor to Rod Rosenstein who wanted to see his career blossom.  That’s just the truth.  This is a time-honored tradition DOJ.  If someone you worked with or for manages to move up the food chain in management, they drag along some young sycophants to benefit by being along for the ride.

Zelinsky then allowed himself to be pulled into a political arena by people urging him to go public with his views on the change in Sentencing Statements.

But the bottom line is that the Sentencing Statement filed by Zelinsky and the other three members of the trial team — such saavy insightful top shelf DOJ lawyers that it only took FOUR of them to handle a FOUR day trial with only FIVE witnesses — was ridiculous under the facts of the case, and the controlling case authority from other similar cases.  And that is exactly what the Trial Judge said when she sentenced Stone to less than 1/2 the amount of time that Zelinsky and the other three trial team members asked for in their Statement.

As a result of the Supervisors contradicting the claims made by Zelinsky in his congressional testimony, the Inspector General has now opened an investigation into the matter.

Now Aaron Zelinsky and the other three trial team prosecutors — FOUR of them to handle a case lasting FOUR days and involving only FIVE witnesses — will have their decision-making in coming up with their Sentencing Statement scrutinized.

The IG investigation will also likely address the issue raised by Attorney General Barr in his recent speech at Hillsdale College when he made it clear that — in his view of the organizational structure of DOJ — line prosecutors all work for the Attorney General, and they have to answer to supervisors who are political appointees for their actions.  They are not “independent operators” who are above being second-guessed or given direction simply because someone hangs the title “career prosecutor” around their necks.