A top federal prosecutor said in a new legal filing Tuesday that Republican operative Roger Stone deserves to be sentenced to "far less" time in prison than the seven-to-nine year span that was first proposed Monday evening by prosecutors who had handled his trial.
The filing — which did not offer a new recommended sentence — came hours after both the Justice Department and President Donald Trump criticized the initial proposal for Stone's punishment by prosecutors as unduly harsh.
The first filing "does not accurately reflect the Department of Justice's position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter," wrote Timothy Shea, the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C wrote in the new sentencing memorandum.
Shea wrote that original sentencing recommendation by his prosecutors "could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances."
Shea said that Stone "committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration that is 'sufficient , but not greater than necessary. ' "
But he also said it should be up to Judge Amy Berman Jackson to determine the "appropriate" punishment for Stone, a longtime ally of Trump's, when she sentences him next week in Washington federal court.
Shea wrote, "While it remains the position of the United States that a sentence of incarceration is warranted here," the first sentence proposal "would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case."
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told NBC News that the decision to lower the recommended prison term for Stone sentencing recommendation was made Monday night, several hours before Trump blasted the original sentencing proposal on Twitter.
Trump had tweeted, "This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"
Stone, 67, was convicted at trial last fall of crimes related to lying to Congress about his contacts with the document disclosure group WikiLeaks and pressuring an associate to endorse those lies.
Four prosecutors from Shea's office dramatically quit the case earlier Tuesday afternoon after it became known that the Justice Department would direct that a lighter sentence be recommended for Stone.
A lawyer for Stone did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the revised sentencing memo.
Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, condemned the Justice Department's reversal.