The conservatives will shrug this off as they have every other betrayal of our nation by this administration…
May they burn in hell.
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
Assistant United States Attorney Aaron S. J. Zelinsky
House Judiciary Committee
June 24, 2020
Good afternoon, Chairman Nadler, ranking Member Jordan, and Members
of the Committee. In response to your subpoena, I am prepared to testify before
you today about the sentencing in United States v. Roger Stone.
Since 2014, I have been privileged to serve as one of over 5,000 Assistant
United States Attorneys. We are non-partisan career prosecutors working in offices
throughout the country. Our job is to see that justice is done, in every case, without
fear or favor. Without party or politics.
I remain committed to these principles, as I am likewise committed to
complying with your subpoena to the best of my ability. It is unusual for a
prosecutor to testify about a criminal case, and given my role as a prosecutor, there
are reasons why my testimony will necessarily be limited. The Department of
Justice has indicated it may assert certain privileges related to investigative
information and decisions, ongoing matters within the Department, and
deliberations within the Department. I intend to respect the invocation of these
privileges in appropriate circumstances, but also recognize that, for example, the
deliberative process privilege does not apply when testimony sheds light on
government misconduct, or when the Government has disclosed deliberative
information selectively and misleadingly. The Department has cleared my
submission of this written statement.
The first thing every AUSA learns is that we have an ethical and legal
obligation to treat every defendant equally and fairly. No one is entitled to more or
less because of who they are, who they know, or what they believe. In the United
States of America, we do not prosecute people because of their politics.
And we don’t cut them a break because of their politics either. In the many
cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political
influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception:
United States v. Roger Stone.
At the time of the events in question – February 2020, I was a career Assistant
United States Attorney. I was not privy to discussions with political leadership at
the Department of Justice. My understanding of what happened in United States v.
Stone is based on two things. The first is what I saw with my own eyes: the unusual
and unprecedented way that Roger Stone’s sentencing was handled by the
Department of Justice. The second is what was told to me at the time by my
supervisors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office: why the Department was treating Roger
Stone differently from everyone else.
What I saw was the Department of Justice exerting significant pressure on
the line prosecutors in the case to obscure the correct Sentencing Guidelines
calculation to which Roger Stone was subject – and to water down and in some
cases outright distort the events that transpired in his trial and the criminal conduct
that gave rise to his conviction. Such pressure resulted in the virtually
unprecedented decision to override the original sentencing recommendation in his
case and to file a new sentencing memorandum that included statements and
assertions at odds with the record and contrary to Department of Justice policy.
What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated
differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President.
I was told that the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Timothy Shea,
was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice
to cut Stone a break, and that the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing instructions to us were
based on political considerations. I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was
giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was “afraid of
That explanation was deeply unsettling. Together with my fellow line
Assistant United States Attorneys, I immediately and repeatedly raised concerns,
in writing and orally, that such political favoritism was wrong and contrary to legal
ethics and Department policy.
Our objections were not heeded.