The IG was initially interested in the case after the four prosecutors on it withdrew in protest of Attorney General William Barr’s interference. Stone was eventually sentenced to 40 months in prison, and President Donald Trump later overturned the sentence completely.
“We welcome the review,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said Monday.
A spokesman for IG’s office would not confirm or deny the investigation.
NBC News first reported the investigation on Monday.
It is unclear what impact any investigation by Inspector General Michael Horowitz could have on the Justice Department or on the current political situation ̵
1; with the president repeatedly praising Stone and attacking investigators as part of his re-election campaign. The responsibility of the independent watchdog is relatively limited to fact-finding and recommendations, and reports from IG’s office often take months, if not years, to produce.
Career prosecutors at the Washington Department of Justice initially recommended a harsh sentence for Stone’s conviction of lying to Congress, obstruction and threatening a witness. But Barr stepped in and toned down what the Justice Department requested of his sentence after the president criticized the recommendation in a tweet.
The four prosecutors in the case withdrew before sentencing, and since then, two have publicly said – in a Washington Post column and in testimony to Congress – they believed Barr undercut the law to protect a friend of the president.
The incident has long drawn control over Barr’s political influence on matters of interest to the president. Prosecutors at Stone’s trial proved their case that Stone had lied to Congress about his attempt to contact WikiLeaks in 2016 to protect the president.
Since then, the Justice Department and Senate Intelligence Committee have released investigators who have found that Trump may have been aware of Stone’s efforts and that the campaign encouraged Stone’s pursuit of stolen emails that could help Trump win the 2016 election.