One day after prosecutors leading the case against Roger Stone requested a sentence of 7-9 years, the prosecution is now in disarray following a presidential tweet after all four prosecutors stepped down from the case.
Stone, who is an ally of President Donald Trump, is scheduled to be sentenced next week. He 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.
On Tuesday, Justice Department officials told the AP that it's backing off its request to sentence Stone for so long. The news came after Trump said in a tweet, "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!"
Later on Tuesday, the DOJ issued a new recommendation for Stone's sentence.
"While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here, the government respectfully submits that the range of 87 to 108 months presented as the applicable advisory Guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case," the filing said.
Instead, the DOJ is pushing for a sentence of 3 to 4 years, which it says is more typical for sentences imposed in obstruction cases.
Following the tweet and word that the DOJ would push for a reduced sentence, all four prosecutors trying the case against Stone stepped away from the case. Aaron Zelinsky, who worked on Mueller's team, has worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore since the Mueller probe ended. He resigned on Tuesday.
The second attorney, Jonathan Kravis, is a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. It is unclear whether he will remain with the DOJ.
The third attorney, Adam Jed, also was a member of the Mueller team. He too quit the case Tuesday afternoon.
The final US attorney who stepped down was Michael Marando. Marando is an assistant United States attorney based in Washington.
A Justice Department official told the AP there had been no contact with the White House over the decision to push for a lower sentence for Stone.