GOP Strategist Says DOJ Is Now Run As the 'Trump Family Law Firm'

A prominent Republican strategist has accused President Donald Trump of turning the Department of Justice into his family's de facto law firm, after the DOJ abruptly walked back a recommended jail term for Trump associate Roger Stone.

Earlier this week, prosecutors filed a sentencing memo suggesting that Stone—a veteran GOP operative who has long been close with the president—be jailed for between seven and nine years for crimes uncovered during the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

But all four prosecutors who took the Stone case to trial resigned Tuesday after the DOJ revised the sentencing memo, suggesting Stone's jail time should be "far less" than originally asked for. The follow-up memo said the original proposal "would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case," CNN noted.

Trump had already railed against the sentence suggestion early on Tuesday, describing it as a "miscarriage of justice" and suggesting it could not be allowed to proceed.

Rick Wilson, an author, analyst and long-time Republican operative, argued on Twitter that the president had co-opted the Justice Department to serve his own personal interests. "No, everything is fine," he wrote. "Don't worry, it's just the Department of Justice is being run as the Trump family law firm."

The president told reporters Tuesday that he did not ask the DOJ to amend the sentencing memo. He did, however, argue that he had an "the absolute right to do it" if he so chose, and attacked the original jail recommendation memo as "disgraceful."

An unnamed DOJ official told CNN that the decision to walk back the suggested jail time came from the department's leadership. The official said the first sentencing memo was "extreme and excessive and is grossly disproportionate to Stone's offenses."

Democratic lawmakers are already pushing back against the U-turn. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for example, wrote to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking for a probe into whether there was political interference in the decision.

Sen. Kamala Harris said Tuesday that Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham must direct Attorney General William Barr to explain the department's erratic stance on Stone. Harris said the decision to overrule the original sentencing memo after the president's tweet "calls into question the independence and integrity of our legal system."

Stone is set to be sentenced on February 20. He is one of the Trump associates indicted under special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Others include former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign manager Rick Manafort and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Stone was convicted of crimes including obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering, having hidden his contacts with WikiLeaks, which was planning to release stolen emails that would undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, Bill Barr, DOJ, Roger Stone
Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump are pictured in the Oval Office of the White House on November 26, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Getty