Note: this piece was originally published in CNN, and was written by Checks & Balances member Carrie Cordero.
By this writing, four federal prosecutors have withdrawn from the prosecution team of Trump confidant Roger Stone after the Justice Department reversed its sentencing recommendation for Stone, who was convicted on seven charges last year that came out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. These included lying to Congress and to investigators under oath, as well as witness tampering.
At least one prosecutor appears to have abruptly ended his assignment as a Special Assistant United States Attorney to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where the Stone case was based, and will return to his home office in Baltimore. Another has resigned his position as an Assistant United States Attorney — a life-altering act of professional consequence conveyed to the court in a one-sentence filing.
Did the prosecutors sever themselves from the case because Department of Justice management disagreed with their initial recommendation? Probably not — prosecutors and departmental leaders disagree all the time.
No, these prosecutors likely drew the line at a feckless departmental leadership changing the sentencing recommendation after it had been filed with the court because, in the face of possible presidential influence and likely political interference, their reputations with the court– before which they conducted the trial of Roger Stone — were on the line.
And as any Department of Justice lawyer knows, your reputation is the most important credential you have. Had they gone along with the about-face before the court, their professional integrity would be impugned.