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DOJ Lowers Sentencing Recommendation for Roger Stone

Update: Three of the prosecutors on Roger Stone's case have just filed notices to withdraw their appearances for the Government. (Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis and Adam Jed ). John Crabb, Jr. has entered his appearance for the Government and filed a supplemental sentencing memo asking for a lighter sentence for Stone even in view of the "arguably" correct guideline range of 87 - 108 months. Crabb is the Acting Chief of the Criminal Division and is licensed in New York. In the new brief, Crabb writes:

As noted above, a sentence of 87 to 108 months more typically has been imposed for defendants who have higher criminal history categories or who obstructed justice as part of a violent criminal organization.
Tell that to Rod Blagojevich who got 14 years. Tell that to non-violent drug traffickers who by law must get a ten year mandatory minimum sentence if their offense and uncharged relevant conduct exceeded 5 kilos of cocaine or 1,000 pounds of marijuana. Which is a more serious offense? I'd say lying to interfere with an investigation into foreign interference in a presidential election.

[Original Post below:]

Oh, how it pays to have friends in high places. DOJ recommended a withing guideline sentence of 87 to 108 months for Roger Stone, convicted after a jury trial on seven counts of obstructing a congressional investigation, making numerous false statements to Congress, and witness tampering. Today Donald Trump tweeted he thought it was excessive. Within hours, DOJ responded agreeing with him.

"The department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation,” the official, who requested anonymity to speak about the department's internal deliberations, said. “This was not what had been briefed to the department and the department thinks the recommendation was extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate to Stone’s offenses and the department will clarify its position later today at the court.”

As if DOJ's right hand doesn't know what its left hand is doing. And as if Donald Trump's tweet had nothing to do with DOJ's change of heart, a DOJ spokesman says it made the decision to alter the recommendation hours before Donald Trump's tweet.

(Roger Stone's lawyers say in their sentencing brief that Stone's guidelines are 15 to 21 months and ask the court for a lesser, non-guideline sentence. Stone's lawyers also disclose that the Probation Department's calculation of the guidelines are the same as the Government's calculations. One big issue of contention seems to be Stone's threat to kill Jerome Corsi's dog. Does it matter whether he meant it?)

At the sentencing hearing, the Judge will arrive at her own determination of the applicable guideline range, having considered the calculations of the Probation Department and parties.

Regardless of what the Judge determines, and what DOJ ultimately recommends, the question is really how DOJ's change of heart unfolded.

First, DOJ's change of heart today treats the Probation Department's recommendation as "chopped liver." Second, aren't the prosecutors who tried the case and viewed every piece of evidence of the charged crimes and any relevant conduct in a better position to make a recomendation than the political appointees in charge of the Department? And third, this may all be irrelevant as the case went to trial and the Judge heard all the evidence and is fully aware of Stone's conduct while on bond and after his conviction. Surely she already has her own view. I highly doubt she will be influenced by Donald Trump's tweet.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Trump is protecting his pack of rats. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by desertswine on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 03:32:28 PM EST


    So what are the guidlines (none / 0) (#1)
    by ragebot on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 02:42:29 PM EST
    Roger Stone's lawyers say in their sentencing brief that Stone's guidelines are 15 to 21 months and ask the court for a lesser, non-guideline sentence. Stone's lawyers also disclose that the Probation Department's calculation of the guidelines are the same as the Government's calculations. One big issue of contention seems to be Stone's threat to kill Jerome Corsi's dog. Does it matter whether he meant it?

    Is there a link to how the calculations are calculated.  Big difference between 15 and 87 months; is it all suppose to be about a threat to a service dog?  Also wonder about the difference between the "Probation Department" and the "Government"; how many peeps are doing calculations?

    The US Sentencing Commission publishes (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 03:49:04 PM EST
    a 550-page manual for calculating someone's Guidelines range. I own a practitioner treatise that discusses the manual and collects case decisions interpreting it, which is over 1850 pages. You are not going to be able to form a useful opinion of your own on which calculation, if either, is "right." In this context, "the Government" means the prosecution team from the Department of Justice (executive branch). "The Probation Department" means the United States Probation Officer (judicial branch) who wrote the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report to assist the judge in selecting the sentence; that report contains, among other things, a suggested Guidelines calculation for the case. Where either or both of the parties disagrees with that calculation, they can make it an issue for determination by the judge prior to imposing sentence. The judge must make her own calculation, and must "consider" that range in choosing the sentence. If a party is dissatisfied with the sentence, a disagreement with the judge's Guidelines calculation can provide a basis for appeal. And no, the Roger Stone case is not "all about a threat to a service dog." (I am guessing you actually already knew that.)

    Parent
    guideline calulations (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:23:04 PM EST
    The parties agree the applicable Guideline for the Group is § 2J1.2 ("Obstruction of Justice"). The base offense level is 14. U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(a).

    The  defense disagrees with every requested enhancement found by Probation and argued for by the Government:

    Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(b)(1)(B), eight levels are added because the offense "involved causing or threatening to cause physical injury to a person, or property damage, in order to obstruct the administration of justice."

    Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2J1.2(b)(2), three levels are added because the offense resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice

    Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2B1.2(b)(3)(C), two levels are added because the offense was otherwise extensive in scope, planning, or preparation

    Finally, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1, two levels are added because the defendant "willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the prosecution of the instant offense of conviction."

    Stone's total offense level is 29 (14 + 8 + 3 + 2 + 2), and his Criminal History Category is I. His Guidelines Range is therefore 87-108 months.

    Case 1:19-cr-00018-ABJ Document 279 Filed 02/10/20 Page 18 of 26

    Parent

    From what little I have learned about (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:52:25 PM EST
    the case from the press, I will venture the following predictions: (b)(1)(B) objection overruled (but variance granted on the basis of the "hot air" principle); (b)(2) objection sustained; (b)(3)(C) objection sustained; 3C1.1 objection overruled. Final calculation: Level 24 (14+8+2) with range of 51-63 months. After 50% "hot air" variance off the (b)(1)(B) (4 levels instead of 8), sentence 36 months. J, want to play?

    Parent
    This seems to be based on the (none / 0) (#13)
    by ragebot on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:56:23 PM EST
    old DOJ recommendations; until the new recommendations come out I am not sure what playing means.

    If the DOJ recommends the minimum 15 months what happens then?

    Parent

    To put it another way, I do not believe (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 05:17:13 PM EST
    that the judge will give a rat's *ss what the Tr*mp-appointed Acting Assistant Attorney General recommends. She will do what she thinks is right.

    Parent
    Sounds like (none / 0) (#16)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 05:30:56 PM EST
    The wind up to an instant pardon?

    Parent
    Or, commutation (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by KeysDan on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 06:22:09 PM EST
    of sentence. Unlike a pardon,  Stone would still retain  most of his fifth amendment rights  regarding self-incrimination. Important since Stone is all about obstruction of justice.  Of course, with Barr at DOJ  Stone has no worries, but, could be different with a President Warren Commission on past corruption.

    Parent
    Can not allow (none / 0) (#18)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 06:32:11 PM EST

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump
    ·
    17h
    This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!

    Can not allow is pretty clear

    Parent

    The arc of fascism (none / 0) (#23)
    by KeysDan on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 07:40:55 PM EST
    bends toward the Justice Department.

    Parent
    So (none / 0) (#24)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 07:42:34 PM EST
    Was the timing of this the result of the court schedule or do they maybe like there is a lot of other news today?

    Parent
    Normal court schedule in relation to (none / 0) (#25)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 07:46:18 PM EST
    the date that the judge had set for sentencing.

    Parent
    Cannot allow what, is the question (none / 0) (#27)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 08:00:46 PM EST
    Cannot allow the conviction to stand? Or cannot allow a sentence of as much as seven years? As usual, Tr*mp's comment is a perfect amalgam of unclear and inarticulate.

    Parent
    Nicole just said (none / 0) (#28)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 08:12:56 PM EST
    There will be news about Flynn, maybe Manafort.  

    Parent
    You are mistaken (none / 0) (#14)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 05:08:49 PM EST
    Read Jeralyn's update and my comment #5 again. My "want to play" was directed to Jeralyn; I was inviting her to join me in recklessly making a prediction.

    Parent
    Judges are not obligated to follow ... (none / 0) (#19)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 06:48:51 PM EST
    ... the prosecution's sentencing recommendations, which are merely that -- recommendations.

    I don't know if you've been following the parallel saga of Trump's former national security advisor, Gen. Mike Flynn, the right-wing crackpot with a right-wing conspiracy theorist for defense counsel. But Judge Emmet Sullivan made it very clear to both prosecutors and defense counsel in Dec. 2018 that he was inclined at the time to ignore the prosecution's recommendation of probation and no prison time for Flynn. That's why Flynn took Sullivan up on his offer to grant him a continuance, rather than be sentenced then and there

    The judge who's overseeing Roger Stone's case, Amy Berman Jackson, strikes me as similar to Judge Sullivan -- eminently fair, but not one to suffer fools.

    Peter, did you ever have a case before either Sullivan or Jackson?

    Parent

    Nope, I haven't. (Rarely appear out of town (none / 0) (#26)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 07:47:48 PM EST
    in district courts. I'm an appellate guy.) But both have a very widely appreciated record for being independent minded, not toadies for the prosecutors, as too many judges are.

    Parent
    I have been following (none / 0) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Feb 12, 2020 at 01:12:22 AM EST
    Flynn is trying to withdraw his guilty plea -- according to the government he changed his story to help his business partner in his Turkish govt lobbying business so that he was worthless as a witness at his trial and the Govt. didn't call him and is re-negging on its previous request that he get a lighter sentence for cooperation. The government had asked for probation and now is asking for a guideline sentence (still very low, 6 months or less if I remember correctly). I saved the pleadings on a different computer weeks ago so this is a general update.

    Parent
    ... by his defense counsel Sidney Powell, one of the many two-dimensional characters found in the bottomless barrel of wingding-bats over at Fox News. Since taking over that duty from Robert Kelner of Covington & Burling LLP, she has instead used the occasion of her many filings in the case to advance baseless far-right crackpot conspiracy theories in the national ether, rather than actually defend her client competently. The fact that her client also subscribes to said crackpot conspiracy theories is totally beside the point.

    Here's my take on it. By talking Flynn into reneging on his plea agreement with the Special Counsel's office, Powell has placed him in the potentially precarious situation where in order to get Judge Sullivan to set aside his earlier plea, he will now have to admit on the stand to His Honor that he twice lied while under oath during his earlier acceptance of guilt for his actions.

    We ought to remember that Judge Sullivan has obviously read the unredacted documents that clearly outline in stark detail both Gen. Flynn's transgressions and the government's case against him, all of which are unavailable to us.

    On the basis of his public statements at an earlier Dec. 2018 sentencing hearing, in which he openly admonished Flynn for having betraying his country, it's painfully obvious that Judge Sullivan profoundly disapproves of the defendant's activities and actions. In fact, he stated quite bluntly and orthrightly to both prosecution and defense that he was inclined to ignore the government's sentencing recommendations, were they to proceed any further that day.

    So even if Judge Sullivan agrees to set aside the plea agreement, Mike Flynn won't be getting off but rather will be headed to trial in Judge Sullivan's courtroom, where I believe he'll face further exposure to an additional perjury charge for having lied twice in court during his earlier plea agreement. His credibility already at low ebb, he'll likely be a sitting duck for prosecutors, while Judge Sullivan will smile wryly at a defendant who's just hoisted himself by his own petard.

    Look, I'm certainly no fan of General Mike Flynn, who all these many years seems to have been alternately channeling both crazy Cold War-era Navy Capt. Peter Peachfuzz and conniving villain Snidely Whiplash of the old "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoon series from the early 1960s.

    And personally, I think Judge Sullivan is right. Like so many in Trump's orbit, Gen. Flynn has betrayed his country for the proverbial thirty pieces of silver. And as a Gold Star family member who also loves his country, I find that to be an unfathomable and unforgivable offense for a senior military officer of Flynn's high rank, retired or otherwise.

    But that said, I also believe that a defendant is entitled to competent legal counsel, and that's clearly not what Flynn's gotten from Ms. Powell here. Rather, he hired a woman who's heretofore indulged his own worst instincts in order to further her own far-right political agenda. She clearly desires a right-wing martyr to the cause, and he's foolishly obliging her.

    It's too bad Mike Flynn didn't retain either you or Peter as his counsel, rather than Madame Yahoo. I'm not an attorney, but after reading a number of her filings on her client's behalf, I'm of the firm opinion that Sidney Powell is a buffoon whose representation of him has been just this side of malpractice.

    Aloha.

    Parent

    Thanks (none / 0) (#11)
    by ragebot on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:41:40 PM EST
    just the explanation I was looking for.

    Parent
    Somebody (none / 0) (#2)
    by FlJoe on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 02:54:17 PM EST
    is unhappy
    Reuters is reporting that the Justice Department prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who has been handling the Roger Stone case, has officially withdrawn from the case.


    It seems (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 03:58:28 PM EST
    all the prosecutors have resigned instead of being forced to be liars and toadies for Barr.

    Parent
    ... but he also resigned as acting Asst. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, effective immediately. According to CNN, he has not resigned his similar position in the office of the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore.

    Parent
    This is totally n/b/d (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 07:32:12 PM EST
    Zelinsky resigned as a "special assistant" US atty not an "acting assistant." A "special assistant" is a prosecutor from another jurisdiction (which can even be a local county DA's office) assigned to a particular case outside their home turf. Just means Zelinsky quit this case and went back to his regular job as an AUSA in Maryland. Still works full-time for Barr, in other words. Not remotely the same as resigning from the DOJ altogether, as his co-counsel did.

    Parent
    And in further corruption news .... (reposted) (none / 0) (#3)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 03:16:40 PM EST
    Here is what I posted on this topic a couple of hour ago on an earlier thread:
     Barr and Tr*mp have publicly embarrassed and humiliated the career "public integrity" prosecutors who inherited the Roger Stone case from the Mueller team, by requiring them to withdraw their sentencing recommendation (of a "Guidelines"-compliant prison term in the 7 to 9 year range) and request a lesser punishment. I am no fan of these particular prosecutors (having encountered their excessive and self-righteous zeal in a couple of less high-profile cases, one of which led to an acquittal on all counts), but this sort of public political interference with case-specific prosecutorial judgment is pretty much unheard of.

    I wonder (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:00:08 PM EST
    if the judge will not get angry at Barr attempting to mess around with this and sentence Stone to the max.

    Parent
    I do not believe the judge would (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Peter G on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:10:21 PM EST
    take out on any defendant, including Roger Stone, her frustration at the behavior of the prosecutors or of the Dept of Justice. She will impose on Stone the sentence that she believes to be legally and factually warranted by his own criminal conduct and his personal history and circumstances.

    Parent
    Peter is right (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 04:15:09 PM EST
    No federal judge would penalize the defendant for conduct of prosecutors.

    Parent
    What sort of prosecutors ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Feb 11, 2020 at 06:53:00 PM EST
    ... work on behalf of the defendant? Because that appears to be what's happening here.

    Parent
    And speaking of Mr. Testicular Fortitude, ... (none / 0) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Feb 18, 2020 at 02:10:49 PM EST
    Jeralyn: "Tell that to Rod Blagojevich who got 14 years."

    ... guess who's walking out of prison today, thanks to Donald Trump? And no, I won't be celebrating his release. In my opinion, Blago is the kind of scumbag who gives the general public a valid reason to be cynical about our elected officials. One of the primary reasons why our country is in its present fix is because far too many of us have developed a rather remarkable penchant for tolerating, excusing and enabling public corruption. And now with Trump, that penchant has come full circle and has bitten our country in its a$$.

    Aloha.

    Aloha.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#32)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Feb 19, 2020 at 03:54:19 PM EST
    Wire (none / 0) (#33)
    by CaptHowdy on Wed Feb 19, 2020 at 04:54:32 PM EST
    No, Bill Barr Is Not Quitting

    February 19, 2020 at 5:19 pm EST By Taegan Goddard 61 Comments

    Rick Wilson: "With Bill Barr's transparently obvious leaks, we've reached the apotheosis of weapons-grade, ratf'k gaslighting."

    "In two articles in the last 24 hours, Bill Barr--and don't buy the bullshit of `people close to'; I'd bet good money it was Barr himself--has told The Washington Post and the Associated Press he's considering resigning due to President Trump's  tweets."

    "This is a pile of horses-hit so tall it could leave orbit. Bill Barr is doing nothing of the sort, and the press should know better."



    Parent
    Barium Meal (none / 0) (#34)
    by TrevorBolder on Thu Feb 20, 2020 at 05:17:46 AM EST
    This is how the Trump Administration flushes out leakers. They distribute a false storyline to a couple of staffers, if they see it in the press , they have identified several people who may be leaking, and narrow it down from there.
    There have been a inexhaustible amount of "Breaking News" which later never happens. And the idiots keep on leaking.

    Parent
    Yet (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by FlJoe on Thu Feb 20, 2020 at 07:56:33 AM EST
    the leaks continue, go figure.

    Parent
    Lol (none / 0) (#36)
    by TrevorBolder on Thu Feb 20, 2020 at 06:51:10 PM EST
    Which is why they are still feeding them Barium meals,

    At a much less frequency.

    It is the nature of Washington government, especially in the State Department. 90 % Democrat, or higher. And in the era of The Resistance, unfortunately they forget they are a civil servant and supposed to implement the policy of the President, instead they try to sabotage and stymie it. Setting a bad example for future administrations. But they are cheered by the media, so They Persevere!!!

    Parent

    Do you ignore their oath? (none / 0) (#37)
    by Jack E Lope on Fri Feb 21, 2020 at 02:18:38 PM EST
    The oath of civil service involves the Constitution, and includes defending it against domestic enemies - a category that may apply to Drumpf.
    I, _, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.


    Parent
    No (none / 0) (#38)
    by TrevorBolder on Fri Feb 21, 2020 at 07:26:26 PM EST
    In this case the domestic enemies are the ones working in the intel Community. Barr and Durham have been investigating, making trips to Australia, Italy (more than one..Mifsud)and England.
    These intel members believe their oath to be to the Resistance, not to this country. They are to pursue the policy goals of the Administration, not  to sabotage them

    Parent
    You do understand (none / 0) (#39)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 21, 2020 at 07:30:59 PM EST
    the "policy goals" of the administration are to flatter and re-elect Trump?

    Those who do not bend U.S. Policy to serve Trump's personal interests are labeled the "enemy" by people (bots) like you.  

     

    Parent

    "I am the state" (none / 0) (#40)
    by MKS on Fri Feb 21, 2020 at 07:36:53 PM EST
    Fits doesn't it?

    Trump fka Louis XIV.

    The problem with such an approach is that Trump is a minority president. And the GOP is opposed by a majority of the country.  Through gimmicks and sleight of hand, the GOP has been able to maintain power.  

    But, at some point, majority rule will prevail.   And, when that dam bursts, will we have what Louis XVI experienced?

    So, your time in the sun will expire....    

    Parent

    Actually (none / 0) (#41)
    by TrevorBolder on Fri Feb 21, 2020 at 07:58:35 PM EST
    This administration has so many accomplishments

    Much more than I would have guessed they could accomplish going in

    Parent