Under pressure from President Donald Trump, the US Justice Department on Tuesday abruptly moved to seek a shorter prison sentence for veteran Republican operative and long-time Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone, and all four prosecutors quit the case after the highly unusual reversal.
Senior department officials - hours after Trump complained on Twitter that Stone was being treated unfairly - overrode the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years made on Monday by the federal prosecutors who secured Stone's conviction. Stone was found guilty in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.
In a new court filing, a Justice Department official who had not previously worked on the case called that recommendation "excessive and unwarranted" and said the department would not make a formal sentencing recommendation.
Democrats blasted the department's shift in the high-profile case involving Stone, whose friendship with Trump dates back decades. Stone's trial arose from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that detailed extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election to benefit Trump's candidacy.