WASHINGTON – A prosecutor on the Roger Stone trial team who abruptly resigned from the Justice Department because of a dispute over the recommended sentence has a new job.
Jonathan Kravis will run a new public corruption unit for the District of Columbia's Office of the Attorney General, which has jurisdiction over juvenile offenses as well as misdemeanor crimes. The idea is to ensure that local, generally lower-level crimes that may otherwise fall between the cracks or go unpunished by the U.S. attorney's office are prosecuted. The job will require Kravis to work with the same office he quit in February.
“Here in the District of Columbia, there are numerous local public corruption offenses that are on the code book, in the DC code, that really are not enforced in this jurisdiction right now because the U.S. attorney's office properly is focused on federal corruption matters," Kravis said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.
“Those provisions don't get the attention that they need,” he added.
They include, he said, campaign finance violations and false statements on financial disclosure forms.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said the nation's capital stands out as a jurisdiction that does not have a local prosecutor to reliably focus on local public corruption offenses. He said the addition of Kravis, an attorney he said had significant statute in the legal community and “good old-fashioned lawyering skills,” will change that.
“The District of Columbia seeks to have a local prosecutor focused on local public corruption in the same way that every state in America does,” Racine said in the interview.
Racine and Kravis both said they expect the public corruption unit to with the local U.S. attorney's office in a professional and collaborative way — Kravis's exit from that office notwithstanding.
Kravis and the government's entire Stone trial team quit the case in February after Justice Department leaders, including Attorney General William Barr, overruled them and ordered the filing of a new sentencing recommendation. The department backed away from its initial recommendation for the ally of President Donald Trump, just hours after the president tweeted his displeasure.
Barr has said he ordered the new filing hours before the president's tweet because he was caught off guard by the initial sentencing recommendation and believed it was excessive based on the facts of the case. Filing a new one was a “righteous decision based on the merits," he has told the AP.
The team had recommended a punishment of between seven and nine years in prison for Stone, who was convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a House probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 presidential election.
The president's tweets about the case led to a brief flare-up between Barr and Trump.
In their revised sentencing memo, department officials argued the initial recommendation could be “considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances” but did not make a specific new recommendation. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's eventual sentence of 40 months was notably lower than what the trial team had asked for.
A press release from the D.C. attorney general's office described Kravis as having resigned over the “Department of Justice's handling of the Stone sentencing memo,” through Kravis declined to discuss with AP why he had left or other aspects of the Stone prosecution.
“I’m not really in a position where I can comment on my departure from the U.S. attorney’s office,” Kravis said. “There are a variety of reasons for that.”
He added: “The project that we're talking here, the formation of the public integrity section, this isn't really about me. This is about creating a unit within the office of the Attorney General that is going to provide a very valuable service to the people of the District of Columbia.”