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Trump’s Clemency Came After Displays of Loyalty by Stone

  • July 12, 2020

Besides lying to federal authorities, he was convicted of threatening a fragile witness who ultimately refused to cooperate with the congressional committee. He urged that associate, a New York radio host named Randy Credico, to act like Frank Pentangeli, a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who conveniently claimed memory loss when called to testify before a Senate panel, then killed himself to avoid jail and protect a mafia boss.

Mr. Trump’s campaign to undo the legacy of the Mueller investigation has found a willing ally in Mr. Barr. He released an initial summary of Mr. Mueller’s findings that a federal judge later said presented a “distorted” picture, and appointed a prosecutor to examine the origins of the F.B.I. inquiry that the special counsel inherited.

Mr. Barr has also intervened to drop criminal charges against another former Trump adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents investigating Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia. And five months ago, Mr. Barr overruled career prosecutors who had handled the Stone case and recommended a lighter sentence than they had sought.

Relying on sentencing guidelines, as is customary, four career prosecutors had requested a sentence of seven to nine years. Mr. Barr decided that was overly harsh and the department asked for a “far less” severe prison term.

Although he insisted he had judged the case independently, Mr. Barr acted after Mr. Trump had criticized the department’s recommendation on Twitter, and the president went on to praise his move as well.

The attorney general’s decision threw the Justice Department into tumult. All four prosecutors on the Stone case withdrew from it in protest, and Mr. Kravis quit the department entirely.

Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, another former member of the prosecution team, told a congressional committee last month that top Justice Department officials wanted Mr. Stone treated leniently because of his ties to the president.

He testified: “What happened here was wrong.”

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