Prosecutor who quit Roger Stone case to testify before House panel

5 months ago 33
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June 16 (UPI) -- Aaron Zelinsky, one of four prosecutors who quit the Roger Stone case after the Department of Justice lowered its sentencing request, will testify before a House panel next week.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Tuesday in a statement that Zelinsky would be among those testifying before the committee about the DOJ on June 24.

Nadler said that he issued two subpoenas for testimony Tuesday, one for Zelinsky, and one for DOJ anti-trust prosecutor John W. Elias.

He described them as whistle-blowers who will testify about "politicization" of the DOJ under President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr.

Nadler added that they would be joined by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer, who served under President George H.W. Bush, and will speak about the importance of the the department's independence.

"Again and again, Attorney General Barr has demonstrated that he will cater to President Trump's private political interests, at the expense of the American people and the rule of law," Nadler said in the statement. "He has abruptly reversed course on prosecutions against the president's allies and friends. He has pursued pretextual investigations against the president's perceived political enemies. He has failed to defend the Affordable Care Act, and he has helped to roll back important civil rights protections. Although he has since tried to escape responsibility for his actions, he ordered federal officers to use tear gas, stun grenades and pepper spray on American citizens peaceably exercising their constitutional rights - - all to clear a path for the president, who wanted a convenient photo op."

Zelinsky became one four federal prosecutors working on the obstruction case of Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser, to step down in February.

Stone had been convicted by a jury last year of lying to congressional investigators in a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The prosecutors had asked a federal judge to sentence Stone to up to nine years in prison for obstructing a congressional investigation.

Trump criticized the sentencing request in a tweet, calling it "disgraceful." The next day, the Justice Department announced it would lower the sentencing request for Stone.

The lowered sentencing recommendation prompted federal prosecutors Adam Jed, Jonathan Kravis, Michael Marando and Zelinksy to quit working on the case.

Elias was DOJ chief of staff for the anti-trust division at the time the agency filed an unsuccessful challenge to AT&Ts merger with Time Warner.

Anti-trust Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said the challenge wasn't based on politics, despite Trump's public criticism and dislike of CNN, which is part of WarnerMedia.

Nadler also accused the anti-trust division of politicizing enforcement last year as the DOJ decided to probe four automakers -- Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW -- for their agreement with California standards to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

"The department's dedication of resources to obstruct California's and these automakers's efforts to protect the environment appears to be yet another example of the administration's weaponization of the anti-trust laws for political purposes," Nadler wrote in a letter to the Justice Department last year, noting that other Democrats have similar concerns.

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