February 12, 2020
Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) delivered the following remarks on news that the Justice Department overruled the sentencing recommendations made by career prosecutors in the government’s case against Trump associate Roger Stone:
Video of the remarks is available here.
“Yesterday, it was reported that political appointees at the Justice Department overruled the sentencing recommendations made by career prosecutors in the government’s case against Trump associate Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and impeding the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The prosecutors’ recommended sentence — seven to nine years — was consistent with DOJ policy and federal sentencing guidelines, and they filed their recommendation with the court.
Political appointees in the Justice Department then overruled the career prosecutors and filed the second memo with the court, withdrawing the earlier recommendation of the career lawyers.
In fact, news reports suggest that Attorney General Barr personally intervened to significantly reduce the prison sentence sought by the government in the Stone case.
Now the reason I do this, Mr. Chairman, is this interference is, quite simply, without precedent, and I find it shocking.
As a result, four career prosecutors who had worked on Mr. Stone’s case withdrew from the matter in protest. Jonathan Kravis, the deputy chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney’s office, resigned from the Justice Department altogether.
The fact that all of the line attorneys – individuals who have devoted their careers to upholding the rule of law – resigned from the case is a red flag.
The independence of the Justice Department is of the utmost importance to the functioning of our democracy.
So on behalf of this side of the aisle – and I regret very much that the chairman isn’t here – but I call on the chairman to open an investigation and hold hearings to get to the bottom of this.
I think it’s appropriate for our committee to take a look. To the best of my knowledge this has never happened before. I believe it’s serious. If it’s without precedent and that’s proven, we really need to take a good look at it.”
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