Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Trump ally and Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to investigate why the Justice Department has watered down its proposed prison sentence for Trump confidant Roger Stone.
Schumer’s call came after four career federal prosecutors withdrew from the case against Stone (and one resigned from the DOJ entirely) after department higher-ups reportedly insisted that the government suggest a lighter prison sentence.
Schumer on Tuesday requested that the Justice Department inspector general investigate what led to the DOJ’s change in its Stone sentencing recommendation, and on the Senate floor Wednesday he asked Graham to hold an emergency hearing for the same purpose.
“That’s the job of the Judiciary Committee, no matter who is president, whether the president is from your party or not,” Schumer said. “Something egregious like this demands that the inspector general investigate and demands that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing, now.”
Stone was found guilty in November on all seven counts against him, including lying to congressional investigators about Wikileaks, witness tampering and obstruction. On Monday, the career prosecutors who had handled his case recommended in a filing that he spend up to nine years in prison.
Within a day, the acting chief of the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office’s criminal division wrote — without any of the previous career prosecutors signing on — that the earlier proposed sentence “could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances.”
Trump criticized the initial, longer recommended sentence as a “miscarriage of justice” against his friend and adviser, and he congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr “taking charge” of the case after Crabb filed the watered down recommendation.
“It appears the attorney general of the United States and other political appointees at the Justice Department intervened to countermand the sentencing recommendation,” Schumer said. “As a result, the four career prosecutors working on the Roger Stone case withdrew from the case or resigned from the Justice Department.”
Asserting that Senate Republicans had “enabled and emboldened” a “crisis in the rule of law in America,” Schumer concluded with a spin on Benjamin Franklin’s famous line: “Senate Republicans have created something very close to a monarchy. If they can keep it.”
A spokesperson for Graham did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.