In an extraordinary turn of events, all four government prosecutors involved in the case of Roger Stone, President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser, withdrew after the Justice Department said it would overrule their sentencing recommendation and ask the court for significantly less prison time.
One of the four, Jonathan Kravis, has resigned from Justice Department. As of now, the three others — Adam Jed, Aaron Zelensky, and Michael Marando – appear to be remaining at DOJ.
From prosecutors’ initial sentencing recommendation Monday evening to their eventual withdrawal from the case Tuesday afternoon, here’s a timeline of what happened.
Monday 6:07 p.m. : Justice Department prosecutors argue in a sentencing memo that Roger Stone’s crimes warranted a sentence of seven to nine years in prison: “Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law,” prosecutors write.
Monday 10:57 p.m. : Later that night, Stone’s legal team responds in their own sentencing memo, disputing the sentencing guidelines laid out by the prosecutors. Stone’s defense argues that Stone’s convicted offenses do not warrant the high sentencing range of seven to nine years in prison and wrote to the judge: “It is respectfully submitted that the Court should impose a non-Guidelines sentence of probation with any conditions that the Court deems reasonable under the circumstances.”
Tuesday 1:48 a.m. : President Donald Trump complains on Twitter about the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation: “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!”
Tuesday mid-morning: A Justice Department official tells reporters that “the department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation … this was not what had been briefed to the department and the department thinks the recommendation was extreme and excessive and grossly disproportionate to Stone’s offenses and the department will clarify its position later today at the court.”
Tuesday early afternoon: DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec tells reporters that the decision by department leadership to reverse course on the recommendation for Stone’s sentencing length came before the president’s tweet. Kupec declines to provide further specifics on the discussions or which members of leadership were involved, but says there was no contact between the White House and Justice Department leadership regarding the Monday evening’s filing prior to the decision made to reverse course.
In response to DOJ’s sentencing recommendation change, Roger Stone attorney Grant Smith tells ABC News, “Our sentencing memo stated our position on the recommendation made yesterday by the government. We look forward to reviewing the government’s supplemental filing.”
Tuesday 2:58 p.m. : Aaron Zelinsky, one of two prosecutors who served on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, submits a filing announcing his withdrawal from the Stone case, marking the first to leave the case amid the chaos. He adds that he is resigning his position from the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. while maintaining his position as an assistant attorney in the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland.
Shortly after, Jonathan Kravis and Adam Jed follow Zelinsky in removing themselves from Stone’s case. Kravis resigned from the Justice Department entirely.
Tuesday 4:45 p.m. : Shortly after Jed’s withdrawal, a Justice Department attorney new to the case files an amended sentencing memorandum arguing that the previous recommendation of seven to nine years “would not be appropriate” and instead “defers to the court as to what specific sentence is appropriate.”
Tuesday late afternoon: In the Oval Office late afternoon, President Trump denies any involvement in the Justice Department’s decision to revise the sentencing request for Stone, even as he asserted he would have been within his rights to do so.
“No, I didn’t speak to the Justice — I would be able to do it if I wanted, I have the right to do it to, but I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe, but I did not speak to them,” he said.
Calling the initial recommendation “ridiculous” and a “disgrace,” the president went on to attack the prosecutors directly, saying “these are the same Mueller people who put everybody through hell.” However, the U.S. attorney who ultimately signed off on the original sentencing recommendation is a close ally of Attorney General Bill Barr.
Tuesday at 5:32 p.m. : With withdrawal from Michael Marando, the last prosecutor in Stone’s case, all four Justice Department prosecutors responsible for the initial recommendation filed Monday have withdrawn from the Stone case.
Tuesday evening: Senior DOJ official told reporters that they find the withdrawals of the prosecutors “surprising,” but said the filing yesterday was “inconsistent with what we were told’ the government would be recommending for Stone. The official said “it does” appear the withdrawals of the prosecutors, including at least one who resigned from DOJ, was done in protest of the department’s reversal — but the official declined to speak to the specifics of their circumstances.
Asked by ABC News what they will tell the judge when she asks whether Trump’s tweet — or Stone’s status as one of Trump’s former confidants– -played any role, the official said it was “an inconvenient coincidence” that the president tweeted that but insisted the president played no role in their decision.