House Dems investigate Roger Stone sentencing

The Michael Flynn prosecution is over, assuming no en banc review of the panel’s decision putting an end to it. However, we can expect plenty of moaning from Democrats and their media allies, as well, I assume, as congressional hearings.

For the moment, though, it’s the Roger Stone prosecution that Democrats are investigating. Bill Otis has the details.

Stone was sentenced by a liberal Democrat judge to 40 months in prison. But House Dems wanted a much longer sentence, and are crying foul because they didn’t get it.

As I write this, Aaron Zelinsky, one of Stone’s prosecutors, is telling the House Judiciary Committee that the Department of Justice exerted significant pressure on the line prosecutors to reduce their recommended sentence for Stone. Zelinsky has 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 told that the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break, and that the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing instructions to us were based on political considerations.

As Bill points out, it’s pretty clear from this statement that Zelinsky lacks first hand knowledge of what was going on. And, indeed, the Justice Department has confirmed his lack of knowledge. Its spokesperson issued this statement:

Mr. Zelinsky, a line prosecutor, did not have any discussion with the Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney, or any other member of political leadership at the Department about the sentencing; instead, Mr. Zelinksy’s allegations concerning the U.S. Attorney’s motivation are based on his own interpretation of events and hearsay (at best), not first-hand knowledge.

Zelinsky complains that the Department of Justice “exerted significant pressure on the line prosecutors in the case to obscure the correct Sentencing Guidelines calculation to which Roger Stone was subject.” The convoluted nature of this accusation (how does one “obscure the correct. . .calculation”?) is a slippery way of saying that Zelinsky’s bosses disagreed with him about how the Sentencing Guidelines should be applied to this case.

Reasonable people can disagree about the sentence Stone should have received. It’s noteworthy, though, that the sentencing judge — liberal Obama appointee Amy Berman Jackson — sentenced Stone to less than half the incarceration Zelinsky wanted. As Bill notes, the judge’s sentence was right in line with what Zelinsky’s politically appointed and much more experienced superiors settled upon. Did the liberal sentencing judge, who clearly was no fan of Stone, “obscure the correct calculation”?

For more about the factors bearing on the sentencing of Stone, read Bill’s full article. You can find my take on it here. Andy McCarthy’s analysis is here.

Facts supporting the sentence include Stone’s age, the fact that this was his first offense, and, most importantly, the reality that the witness on the receiving end of Stone’s ostensible intimidation had a longstanding relationship with Stone, and said he did not feel threatened by him.

Bill concludes his piece with a thought experiment. How would congressional Democrats and their media affiliates like the Washington Post be treating this story if everyone’s position’s were reversed — that is, if we had a Democratic President, a Democratic Attorney General and US Attorney, a slimy Democratic defendant (instead of a slimy Republican one), and a Republican or Republican-leaning line prosecutor who wanted a seven-to-nine year sentence for a 67 year-old white collar defendant?

In this scenario, says Bill, the Democratic/media party line would be something like this:

Vindictive prosecutor’s draconian sentencing recommendation for aging, first-time, non-violent offender overruled by more mature judgment of Attorney General; well-respected district judge rejects line prosecutor’s barbaric sentencing wishes and sides with AG.

That’s about right.

Would Republicans be taking the line that Dems are now espousing in the Stone case? Possibly. But I don’t recall seeing an example of that level of vindictiveness regarding the prosecution of an elderly Democrat operative.