Former prosecutor to testify Barr intervened in case of Trump pal to please Trump
Aaron Zelinsky resigned from the Justice Department over Attorney General William Barr’s political interference on behalf of Trump.
A career federal prosecutor will testify on Wednesday that Attorney General William Barr explicitly intervened in the sentencing of Donald Trump associate Roger Stone on Trump’s behalf — a bombshell allegation that comes amid investigations into political interference at the Department of Justice.
Stone was convicted in federal court in November 2019 on all seven counts of the indictment against him, including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress.
Aaron Zelinsky, a former prosecutor on Stone’s case, will tell the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing on Wednesday that Stone was “treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.”
Zelinsky resigned from the Stone case in November 2019 after Barr intervened to recommend a lighter sentence after prosecutors had sent their recommendation according to established guidelines.
Trump had publicly criticized the proposed sentence.
Hours after that criticism, the department announced it was going to recommend a shorter sentence for Stone, leading Zelinsky and three other prosecutors to withdraw from the case.
“In the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone,” Zelinsky will tell the committee.
According to prepared testimony released by the Judiciary Committee, Zelinsky will tell the hearing: “I was explicitly told that the motivation for changing the sentencing memo was political, and because the U.S. Attorney was ‘afraid of the President.'”
The focus of the hearing is “political interference and threats to prosecutorial independence” at the Justice Department.
Zelinsky, who worked on Robert Mueller’s team of investigators into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, is one of two people who have been subpoenaed to testify before the committee; the other is John Elias, an official of the Justice Department’s antitrust division.
Barr has intervened in a number of Justice Department matters to force decisions favorable to Trump.
He lied about the contents of Mueller’s report on Russian interference and spun the contents to appear more favorable to Trump. He backed up Trump’s baseless claims that the Mueller investigation was illegitimate, even though his own department said that allegation was false.
Barr has also bolstered Trump’s debunked allegation that former President Barack Obama spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign.
He also intervened to get the department to drop charges against Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The House Judiciary Committee hearing on political interference at the Department of Justice will be held at noon EDT on Wednesday.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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