On February 10, the career prosecutors who had tried and won the criminal case against Roger Stone submitted a request for a prison sentence within the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines’ recommended range of 87 to 108 months. (Federal prosecutors almost always request Guidelines-based sentences; to their way of thinking the sacrosanct Guidelines somehow manage to prescribe the most reasonable range of sentences in nearly every case.) The next day, after President Trump’s 1:48 a.m. tweet denigrating the career prosecutors’ request as a “miscarriage of justice,” the central Department of Justice office filed a revised memorandum asking for a sentence “far less” than the Guidelines range. There was no reasonable or innocent explanation for this unprecedented move. The central DOJ office did not have an overnight epiphany about the general ineffectiveness of long prison sentences as a means to prevent crime. Rather, Attorney General Barr and/or others within the DOJ clearly intervened in a criminal matter on behalf of the President’s friend in order to appease the President.
Instead of playing along with the central office’s efforts to help Stone, all four of the career prosecutors who had been involved in the case withdrew for ethical reasons, and one of them, Jonathan Kravis, quit his job as a prosecutor. Earlier today, in light of recent revelations about Barr’s interference on behalf of Michael Flynn, who had already pleaded guilty to criminal conduct on two separate occasions, Kravis published a compelling Op-Ed in the Washington Post:
In both cases, the department undercut the work of career employees to protect an ally of the president, an abdication to the commitment to equal justice under the law. Prosecutors must make decisions based on facts and law, not on the defendant’s political connections. When the department takes steps that it would never take in any other case to protect an ally of the president, it betrays this principle.
If the department truly acted because of good-faith commitments to legal positions, then where is the evidence of those commitments in other cases that do not involve friends of the president? Where are the narcotics cases in which the department has filed a sentencing memorandum overruling career prosecutors? Where are the other false-statements cases dismissed after a guilty plea? There are none. Is that because the only cases in the United States that warranted intervention by department leadership happened to involve friends of the president? Of course not.Jonathan Kravis, I Left the Justice Department After It Made a Disastrous Mistake. It Just Happened Again, Wash. Post (May 11, 2020)