Mr. Zelinsky did not say in his written statement who specifically told him about what was going on. Jonathan Kravis, another prosecutor who quit the case in protest — and, unlike Mr. Zelinsky, also resigned from the Justice Department — has previously written in an op-ed in The Washington Post that he “resigned because I was not willing to serve a department that would so easily abdicate its responsibility to dispense impartial justice.”
The intervention came days after Mr. Barr had maneuvered the Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, out of her role and installed in her place as acting U.S. attorney a close aide from his own office, Timothy Shea.
Mr. Zelinsky plans to say he was told that Mr. Shea “was receiving heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice to cut Stone a break” and complied because he was “afraid of the president.” He and other line prosecutors were told that the case was “not the hill worth dying on” and that they could lose their jobs if they did not fall in line, according to the statement.
A Justice Department spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
Mr. Zelinsky, a prosecutor in Baltimore, had been detailed to Washington to continue work on the Stone case that was begun while he worked for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. While Mr. Zelinsky worked on the case while he was assigned to the Washington office, he never met with Mr. Shea or discussed the case with him, according to two people familiar with internal conversations about the Stone case.
According to Mr. Elias’s written opening statement, he will accuse the department of inappropriately using its antitrust power to investigate 10 proposed mergers and acquisitions in the marijuana industry because Mr. Barr “did not like the nature of their underlying business.”
The reviews consumed a large amount of the antitrust division’s resources, he said, and document demands imposed a heavy burden on the companies, which were forced to produce hundreds of thousands of pages that the department in some cases did not even look at.
At least one merger fell through and stock prices dropped as a result, he said, even though there was never a justification in competitiveness analysis — like whether the companies trying to merge would have too much market share — for using antitrust powers to essentially harass the firms.