WASHINGTON (AP) – Four lawyers who prosecuted Roger Stone have quit the case after the Justice Department said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for President Donald Trump’s longtime ally and confidant.
The resignations raise immediate questions over whether Trump had at least indirectly exerted his will on a Justice Department that he often views as an arm of the White House. The president had blasted the original sentencing recommendation just hours prior as “very horrible and unfair.”
The Justice Department said the sentencing recommendation was made Monday night before Trump’s tweet and prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.
The four attorneys had signed onto a Monday court filing that recommended up to nine years in prison for Stone.
Stone was convicted in November of a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Stone is scheduled to be sentenced next week.