Roger Stone Prosecutor To Testify About Political Pressure To Go Lenient On Trump’s Friend

( One of the former prosecutors in the Roger Stone case is set to testify in front of Congress that he and his colleagues were pressured into cutting Stone “a break” because he was friends with President Donald Trump.

Aaron Zelinsky is one of the four original prosecutors in the Stone case who withdrew when Attorney General William Barr came out in opposition of their sentencing recommendation for Stone. He is set to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. So, too, will John Elias, an anti-trust prosecutor.

According to Zelinsky’s prepared testimony, he said:

“What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president. I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the president.'”

Elias is planning to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee that the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department was personally ordered by Barr to launch a review of 10 different cannabis mergers for politically-motivated reasons.

It is very rare for a rank-and-file employee of the DOJ to testify against its leadership, but especially so seeing as that employee is still working for them. It’ll be just the latest public critique of Barr, who is facing pressure throughout Washington for his conduct and alleged close ties to Trump.

As Zelinsky’s statement about the Stone sentencing continues:

“[W]e were told by a supervisor that the U.S. Attorney had political reasons for his instructions, which our supervisor agreed was unethical and wrong. However, we were instructed that we should go along with the U.S. Attorney’s instructions, because this case was ‘not the hill worth dying on’ and that we could ‘lose our jobs’ if we did not toe the line.”

The prosecutors pressed on and filed their sentencing recommendation as originally planned. Not long after they did so, though, they were heavily criticized by Trump, who said it was “horrible and very unfair,” and tweeted that he “cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

What followed shortly after was a change in the sentencing recommendation. That led Zelinsky and his three other colleagues to withdraw from the case. Jonathan Kravis, one of the prosecutors, resigned from the DOJ because of it.

Ultimately, Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed a sentence of 40 months in prison, which was less than the original prosecutors had recommended.

Zelinsky continued:

“I am not here to criticize the sentence Judge Jackson imposed in the case or the reasoning that she used. It is about process and the fact that the Department of Justice treated Roger Stone differently and more leniently in ways that are virtually, if not entirely, unprecedented.”

While Stone is scheduled to report to prison later this month, on June 30, it’s possible he never spends a day behind bars. Trump has hinted rather strongly that he will either commute Stone’s sentence or pardon him. In a recent tweet, he told Stone to “sleep well at night.”