A federal judge Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, a long-time advisor to President Trump, to 40 months in prison. Stone was convicted in November on seven counts, including lying to Congress and witness tampering.
“There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution,” U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said while imposing the sentence of nearly three-and-a-half years. “Witnesses do not get to decide for themselves whether Congress is entitled to the facts.”
She added, “The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”
On Tuesday, Judge Berman Jackson rejected Stone’s attempt to delay sentencing. Stone was originally arrested in January 2019, stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. Last year, Jackson sentenced another Trump advisor, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, to three-and-a-half years in prison for unlawful lobbying and witness tampering.
Federal prosecutors originally recommended a seven-to-nine year sentence for Stone, saying that it “will send the message . . . that [impeding] a congressional investigation on matters of critical national importance are not crimes to be taken lightly.” But the Justice Department intervened and argued that three or four years was a “more typical” sentence for a case like this, causing four prosecutors to resign from the case, one of whom resigned from the DOJ entirely.
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The DOJ also said in its request that seven to nine years “could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances,” given Stone’s age and that this was his first offense. The appearance of interference sparked an outcry from many former DOJ officials and prosecutors. More than two thousand of them signed a letter calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign over the matter, as did nine Democratic senators.
Judge Berman Jackson said she would consider in deciding the sentence some of Stone’s actions before the trial, including his social media campaign against his prosecution. “This is intolerable to the administration of justice and the courts should not sit idly by, shrug its shoulders and just say it’s ‘Roger being Roger,’” she said.
Although both Barr and Trump denied the president interfered in the case, Trump tweeted congratulations to Barr “for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control.”
Trump has also targeted Judge Berman Jackson, tweeting, “Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!”
And, at 1:00 AM on the day of Stone’s sentencing, the president tweeted again, this time quoting Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “What has happened to Roger Stone should never happen to anyone in our Country again.”
The president’s strong objections hint that a presidential pardon may be heading Stone’s way.
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