June 16, 2020 / 2:59 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Justice Dept. employees to testify about political meddling, House panel says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Justice Department employees will testify to Congress next week about political influence on law enforcement activity, including one who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the Democratic-controlled panel said on Tuesday.

House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the two career employees, John Elias and Aaron Zelinsky, are both “prepared to describe the unprecedented politicization of the Department under President Trump and Attorney General William Barr.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Zelinsky was one of four prosecutors who abruptly withdrew from handling the prosecution of Trump’s longtime friend, Roger Stone, after Barr intervened earlier this year to scale back the department’s sentencing recommendation.

Zelinsky returned to his regular position as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Maryland after withdrawing from the case, but has never publicly spoken about his decision.

Elias serves as the acting chief of staff to Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the department’s antitrust division.

Nadler said he intends to call Elias and Zelinsky to testify at a hearing on June 24, along with former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer.

“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. 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,” Nadler said in a statement.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, Editing by Andy Sullivan, Franklin Paul and Dan Grebler

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