Stone Sentenced to 40 Months in Prison 02/21 06:14
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald
Trump, was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday for
obstructing a congressional investigation in a case that has sparked fears
about presidential interference in the justice system.
Soon after Judge Amy Berman Jackson pronounced sentence, Trump publicly
decried Stone's conviction as unfair and prominent Republican legislators were
giving tacit support for a pardon. But Trump said he wasn't ready to act just
"I want the process to play out. I think that's the best thing to do because
I would love to see Roger exonerated," he said. "I'm going to watch the
process. I'm going to watch very closely. ... At some point I'll make a
The case was marked by the Justice Department's extraordinary about-face on
a sentencing recommendation and a very public dispute between Trump and
Attorney General William Barr, who said the president was undermining the
department's historical independence and making "it impossible for me to do my
The president responded by asserting that he was the "chief law enforcement
officer of the federal government."
Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that
accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the
House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to
tip the 2016 election.
He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted on charges brought as
part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian
interference in the 2016 election.
At sentencing Thursday, Jackson grilled federal prosecutor John Crabb on the
department's decision to replace a tough sentencing recommendation for Stone
with a more lenient one, which had prompted the original prosecution team to
quit the case. Trump had called the original recommendation of seven to nine
years a "miscarriage of justice."
Jackson pointedly told Crabb that he might know less about the case than
anyone in the room.
Jackson said the evidence clearly showed that Stone testified falsely to
Congress and repeatedly pressured a potential witness to either back up his lie
or refuse to testify.
Near the end, Jackson's voice rose in anger as she said that Stone's entire
defense strategy seemed to amount to "So What?" Stone did not testify and
called no witnesses on his behalf.
"This is NOT campaign hijinks. This was not Roger being Roger. You lied to
Congress," she told Stone. "The dismay and disgust ... at the defendant's
actions in our polarized climate should transcend (political) parties."
She sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison, plus two years' probation and a
Stone remained largely expressionless throughout the proceedings. As he left
the Washington, D.C., courthouse and got into a black SUV without speaking to
reporters, crowds of protesters engaged in dueling chants of "Pardon Roger
Stone!" and "Lock him up!"
His attorney Bruce Rogow said Stone and his team would have no comment. The
judge delayed execution of his sentence while she considers Stone's motion for
a new trial.
Even before Trump said he would hold off a decision on a pardon, Republican
and Democratic legislators were staking out positions on one.
Democratic House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California tweeted
after the sentencing that "to pardon Stone when his crimes were committed to
protect Trump would be a breathtaking act of corruption."
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a staunch Trump ally, signaled early
support for such a move, tweeting that Trump has "all the legal authority in
the world" to pardon Stone if he chooses.
The sentencing came amid Trump's unrelenting defense of his longtime
confidant. The president has repeatedly maintained that the jury was tainted
against him and his allies.
Prosecutor Crabb asked the judge to impose "a substantial period of
incarceration." Stone's attorney Seth Ginsberg repeated the defense team's plea
that Stone get no prison time. Stone declined to address the court.
While clearly displeased with the mixed messages from the Justice
Department, Jackson said she agreed that the initial sentencing recommendation
was too harsh.
The evidence presented at Stone's trial didn't directly address Mueller's
conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy
between the Trump campaign and Russia to tip the outcome of the 2016
presidential election. But it provided new insight into the scramble inside the
Trump campaign when it was revealed in July 2016 that the anti-secrecy site
WikiLeaks was in possession of more than 19,000 emails hacked from the servers
of the Democratic National Committee.U.S. intelligence agencies have said
Russia was the source of the hacked material.
Witnesses testified that Trump's campaign viewed Stone as an "access point"
to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advance word about hacked emails
damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors argued that Stone had lied to Congress about his conversations
about WikiLeaks with New York radio host and comedian Randy Credico.
During the 2016 campaign, Stone mentioned in interviews and public
appearances that he was in contact with founder Julian Assange through a
trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks' plans.
Testimony revealed that Stone, while appearing before the House Intelligence
Committee, named Credico as his intermediary to Assange and pressured Credico
not to contradict him.
After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told
him he should "stonewall it" and "plead the fifth," he testified. Credico also
testified during Stone's trial that Stone repeatedly told him to "do a 'Frank
Pentangeli,'" a reference to a character in "The Godfather: Part II" who lies
Prosecutors also charged that Stone had threatened Credico's therapy dog,
Bianca, saying he was "going to take that dog away from you."