Roger Stone gets THREE YEARS and four months but will not go straight to prison while he asks for a retrial – as federal judge rejects prosecutors’ demand for nine years but savages Donald Trump for interfering and says Stone ‘covered up for the president’
- Roger Stone, 67, arrived at Washington’s federal court with his wife Nydia for sentencing hearing Thursday
- Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson said his punishment for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction will be 40 months in prison
- But because he is asking for a retrial over claims of bias by the jury foreperson, the sentence will not take effect
- Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, said she had rejected prosecutors’ demand for nine years on her – not because of outside pressure
- That was a reference to Trump, who had raged about the initial demand – and for whom a 40 month sentence can be portrayed as a win
- Judge issued a stunning rebuke not just of Stone but of Donald Trump himself for trying to interfere in the case
- Case has plunged attorney general Bill Barr into crisis as he pleaded with Donald Trump to stop tweeting about it – and president refused
- Within an hour of his arrival, Trump was tweeting again about the case this time suggesting the prosecution was unfair
- He claimed James Comey had lied to Congress but was not prosecuted
- Trump called himself the nation’s ‘chief law enforcement officer,’ and Barr was reported to be considering resigning
Roger Stone swerved a federal prison cell Thursday despite a judge slapping the longtime Donald Trump ally with a 40-month sentence for lying to Congress – and savaging not just him but the president.
Stone was convicted last fall of lying to lawmakers over his efforts to procure stolen Democratic Party emails from WikiLeaks in 2016 to boost Donald Trump’s chances of becoming President.
The self-declared political dirty trickster was spared immediate incarceration Thursday while U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson decides whether or not to grant his request for a retrial.
The sentence was far below the nine years demanded by the prosecution before that was over-ruled in a political tumult and furious tweets by Trump.
Trump will be able to paint that as a win, but Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, went out of her way to say she was not affected by the president. Stone himself had asked for probation.
ROGER STONE DID A LOT WRONG: WHAT HE WAS CONVICTED OF
Roger Stone was found guilty on all charges of:
1. Obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering by trying to get Randy Credico to lie to Congress. Sentenced to 40 months
2. Lying to Congress that he did not have emails or texts about Julian Assange. Sentenced to 12 months concurrent with the first count
3. Lying when he claimed his references to being in touch with Assange were actually about a ‘go-between’ – Randy Credico. Sentenced to 12 months concurrent with the first count
4. Lying that he didn’t ask his ‘go-between’ to communicate with Assange. Sentenced to 12 months concurrent with the first count
5. Lying that he didn’t text or email the ‘go-between’ about WikiLeaks. Sentenced to 12 months concurrent with the first count
6. Lying that he had never discussed conversation with his ‘go-between’ with anyone in the Trump campaign. Sentenced to 12 months concurrent with the first count
Instead she turned his sentencing hearing into a stunning rebuke not just of Stone but of the president himself, saying the prosecution was not brought by ‘political enemies,’ and that there was no ‘anti-Trump cabal’ at the hear of the case.
‘He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president, he was prosecuted for covering up for the president,’ she said.
‘There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution.’
Trump tweeted in rage against the prosecution accusing it of lacking ‘FAIRNESS’ as the hearing was under way in federal court in Washington D.C.
”They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.’ OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?’ the president tweeted.
It was unknown whether Berman Jackson was aware of his latest intervention but it came amid a case roiled by politics and mounting speculation Stone will be pardoned.
Even before she spoke, prosecutors staged their own revolt against the president calling the case ‘righteous’ and demanding a lengthy prison sentence despite their initial call for nine years being over-ruled by Attorney General Bill Barr in one of the main acts of an unfolding constitutional crisis.
Stone, 67, stood in silence as Jackson told a federal courtroom Washington, D.C. that he should spend 40 months -three years and four months – behind bars.
She had savaged him in his sentencing remarks – and rebuked the president himself, possibly for his tweet this morning which was during the first part of her hearing.
‘This case did not arise because Roger Stone was being prosecuted by his political enemies,’ Berman Jackson said.
She said Stone told ‘flat out lies,’ and that his conviction had nothing to do with whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
He was guilty of a ‘corrupt, unlawful,’ campaign to stop his lies being exposed when he threatened Randy Credico, who he named as his ‘go-between’ to Julian Assange, to stop Credico revealing the truth, that there was another go-between.
Stone was also guilty of withholding texts and emails from Congress, prompting Berman Jackson to again lash out at the president.
Free to go – for now: Roger Stone is escorted from the Washington D.C. federal courthouse after his sentencing. He remains gagged from speaking to the press
Happy outcome: A grinning Roger Stone left the court to get into a waiting car
On his way: Roger Stone steps out of the court and into the crowd after his sentencing
Off – but not to prison: Roger Stone left court apparently cheerful after he was sentenced to 40 months, not the nine years prosecutors wanted, but not the probation he had asked for himself
Not over: Roger Stone’s case is not at an end because he has applied for a retrial, which the judge is considering. She went ahead with the sentencing and will rule later on his call for a fresh hearing
Crowd: Roger Stone walked through a crowd of waiting photographers and reporters as he left the court
Grinning: Roger Stone had shown no emotion as he was sentenced, and left the court building with a smile on his face
Lightning rod: Federal judge Amy Berman Jackson will sentence Roger Stone in a case which has caused a crisis to engulf Bill Barr who pleaded with Donald Trump to let him do his job and stop the tweeting about his Department of Justice
Stone refused to hand them over ‘not to some secret anti Trump cabal, but to Congress, to the elected representatives of both parties.’
And she pointed out that it was a Republican-led inquiry which he had initially defied.
Then she laced into the president, without naming him, saying it was right for sentencing to be done by a judge, ‘Not someone who has a longstanding friendship with the defendant, not someone whose political career was aided by the defendant.’
Stone was joined by a vast entourage led by his wife Nydia as he walked into the federal court, where his legal team has been bolstered by a Mafia lawyer who helped keep John Gotti Jr., head of the Gambino crime family and son of the ‘Teflon Don,’ out of prison.
Pro-Stone demonstrators brought a ‘pardon Roger stone’ banner which they held behind him when he arrived while counter-protesters tried to hurriedly erect an inflatable effigy of Trump as a rat as Stone arrived.
Hours before he arrived Trump launched another fusillade against Stone’s conviction, tweeting: ‘What has happened to Roger Stone should never happen to anyone in our country again.’
Trump’s tweets have plunged his own attorney general, Bill Barr, into a crisis over the rule of law, with the president declaring himself the ‘chief law enforcement officer,’ and demanding Barr ‘clean house.’
His wife Nydia was behind him in the courtroom as Stone, wearing a dark gray chalk stripe double-breasted suit, blue shirt with cutaway collar and sober gray tie, sat beside his attorneys.
Department of Justice attorneys had originally requested a far harsher punishment of seven to nine years only to see their recommendation ripped up by Attorney General William Barr, who drew praise from Trump for labeling it ‘excessive and unwarranted’.
The intervention sparked accusations of political interference, forcing Barr on the defensive as he denied bowing to White House influence and appealed for Trump to curb his explosive Twitter criticisms of Judge Jackson and the supposedly ‘tainted’ case against Stone.
More than 2,000 former justice department employees have since signed a petition calling on the Attorney General to resign.
The original prosecution foursome of Aaron Zelinsky, Jonathan Kravis, Adam Jed and Michael Marando were replaced for today’s proceedings at Washington, D.C. District Court, having all resigned in protest.
Stone’s sentencing got off to a rocky start when U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that anyone in the court who did not have a medical reason to wear sunglasses should remove them. Stone had arrived in round sunglasses.
Jackson took the opportunity to grill prosecutors on why the Department of Justice decided last week to submit a second sentencing memorandum, a nod to Attorney General William Barr’s controversial decision to rip up the original seven to nine year recommendation submitted by his own attorneys.
It fell upon newly-assigned federal prosecutor John Crabb to apologize for the ‘miscommunication’, insisting that the original prosecution team – who resigned last week in protest – had acted in ‘good faith’.
Stone stood in silence as Jackson recalled the seven offences of which he was convicted: five counts of making false statements to Congress, a single count of obstructing a congressional proceeding and single count of witness tampering.
That final charge would be of particular significance as she warned Stone his sentence would likely be higher because it involved specific threats of violence.
Last November’s trial heard how Stone bullied the radio host Randy Credico into pleading the Fifth to avoid contradicting his 2016 testimony before Congress, branding him a ‘rat’ and threatening to take away his therapy dog.
Political point: An anti-Bill Barr protest was being made outside the federal court while Roger Stone was being sentenced – resulting in the advertising van being pulled over by D.C. cops
He’s here: Roger Stone was accompanied by his wife Nydia and an almost 20-strong entourage as he arrived at federal court in Washington D.C. to be sentenced
In front of the protest: Roger and Nydia Stone walked past the inflatable Trump rat as they made their way into court
Grin and bear it: Roger Stone kept a fixed smile as he headed into court with his wife Nydia on his arm
Raised a smile: Roger Stone’s wife Nydia reacted positively to a group of supporters’ banner calling for Donald Trump to issue the dirty trickster with a pardon
Arm-in-arm: Roger Stone wore a navy blue double-breasted topcoat with contrasting collar, blue cutaway collared shirt and sober gray tie, topped off with a black trilby as he arrived in court with Nydia, his second wife
Asked if he had anything to say, Stone, dressed immaculately in a pinstripe suit, grey tie and suspenders, told Washington, D.C. District Court: ‘Your honor I choose not to speak at this time, thank you very much.’
Jackson slammed the 67-year-old defendant as an ‘insecure person who craves and recklessly pursues attention.’
‘This case did not arise because Roger Stone was being pursued by his political enemies,’ she added.
‘It arose because Roger Stone characteristically injected himself smack into the middle of one of the most significant issues of the day.’
Judge Jackson said Stone had interfered with matters of ‘grave national importance’ and repeatedly lied under oath. She characterized his defense as: ‘So what?’
‘Nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn’t funny,’ she cautioned.
‘This was not Roger being Roger. He lied to congress, he lied to elected representatives.’
The no-nonsense judge praised the ‘professionalism’ of the original four prosecutors, saying their recommendation was ‘true to the record’ and in line with Department of Justice guidelines.
However she agreed with Barr’s revision and said she was concerned seven to nine years would be ‘greater than necessary.’
She sentenced Stone to 40 months for obstruction, 12 months each for the counts of lying to Congress and 18 months for witness tampering, all sentences to be served concurrently.
He was also fined $20,000 and will have to serve two years’ probation. Federal rules means he has to give the court his tax returns.
Judge Jackson quizzed Crabb about how she came to receive two competing sentencing memorandums, noting that the original recommendation had never been formally withdrawn.
Crabb agreed and confirmed the prosecution was still asking for a substantial prison term for Stone, insisting the Justice Department had operated ‘without fear, favor or political influence’.
‘This prosecution was and is righteous,’ he said. ‘This confusion was not caused by the original trial team. There was nothing in bad faith about the prosecution team’s recommendation.’
Quizzed over who had ordered the new memorandum and why, Crabb replied: ‘What I understand is, there was a miscommunication between the Attorney General and the United States Attorney.’
Asked to explain who wrote the second memorandum, he repeatedly declined to say.
‘I cannot engage in discussions on internal deliberations,’ he said, to Judge Jackson’s obvious displeasure.
Ginsberg told the court that Stone had a history of ‘rough, provocative and hyperbolic language’ and that his threats to Credico should not influence his sentence, given that Credico and Stone went back decades and he knew Stone was ‘all bark and no bite.’
Judge Jackson disagreed, saying the sentencing seriousness level jumped from 14 to 27 because of Stone’s threats, witness tampering and efforts to disrupt justice.
‘The defendant refers to this as banter, which it hardly is,’ Jackson added, reeling off a list of insults Stone had directed toward Credico, including ‘rat’ and ‘c**sucker’.
She also slammed Stone over his repeated outbursts during last year’s prosecution, in particular his speaking out via InfoWars host Alex Jones to relay a message to Trump pleading for a pardon the night before he was found guilty.
That was in defiance of a gag order Judge Jackson had earlier slapped on Stone after he posted a mocked up photo of her face in rifle crosshairs online.
Jackson said Stone was deliberately trying to undermine proceedings and was stoking anger towards court officials, risking a scenario in which someone with ‘even less judgment’ could actually do something violent.
‘This is intolerable to the administration of justice. The court should not sit idly by, shrug its shoulders and say, that’s just Roger being Roger,’ she said.
Ratcheting up his sentencing level another two notches, she added: ‘It wasn’t an accident he had a staff that helped him do it. Using the new social media is his sweet spot.
‘He knew exactly what he was doing and in using Twitter and Instagram he deliberately magnified his message.’
Stone’s decades-long career on the shadier margins of US politics appeared to be over last November after he was found guilty of five counts of making false statements to Congress and single counts of obstructing a congressional proceeding and witness tampering.
Jurors agreed the smooth-talking agent provocateur, who briefly served on Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign, told a series of ‘whoppers’ when he testified before members of House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
Stone lied to lawmakers when he denied asking Julian Assange for the cache of Democratic Party messages stolen by Russian hackers and further lied about the identity of his go-between to the WikiLeaks founder.
He also concealed numerous texts, emails and telephone conversations in which he discussed WikiLeaks and Assange with then candidate-Trump and senior campaign figures including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, ex Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates.
In he goes: Roger Stone took off his trilby to enter court, where he will be sentenced
Acknowledgment: Roger Stone gave a salute to supporters outside court
Tailored: Roger Stone revealed he is wearing a double-breasted dark gray chalk stripe suit under his navy blue double-breasted overcoat as he got out of his car before going into court
Demand: Supporters of the disgraced dirty trickster unfurled a ‘pardon Roger Stone’ banner outside court, echoing a demand which Donald Trump says he has not considered
Counter-protest: Anti-Trump activists put up an inflatable effigy of the president as a rat in time for Roger Stone’s arrival
Publicity opportunity: The Stone spectacle has also been a magnet for a local tour company whose placard made a return to the entrance to court for the sentencing
Ready for the walk: Nydia Stone grasped her husband’s arm as they prepared to walk into court
The trial heard Stone was trying to procure the emails as a way to win favor with Trump and help him beat Hillary Clinton to the White House.
The net result of him lying ‘over and over and over again’ was that the House Intelligence Committee was impeded in its inquiries and its final report into Russian election inference was inaccurate because it didn’t mention Stone’s true intermediary, prosecutors said.
The tampering charge referred to his effort to bully the comedian and radio host Randy Credico into pleading the Fifth so he would avoid contradicting Stone’s sworn September 26, 2017 testimony.
Stone had told lawmakers that Credico was his ‘back channel’ to WikiLeaks when it was actually the conspiracy theorist and author Jerome Corsi.
When Credico threatened to set the record straight, Stone branded him a ‘c**ksucker’, a ‘rat’ and urged the rattled comic to do a ‘Frank Pentangeli’, referencing a character in Godfather Part II who lies to a congressional committee to help the Corleone family before committing suicide.
He also took aim at Credico’s therapy dog Bianca, a 13-year-old Coton de Tulear, writing in an text message: ‘I’m going to take that dog away from you.’
Prosecutors cited the threats of physical harm and Stone’s repeated media outbursts attacking Judge Jackson as aggravating factors against the former Nixon campaign adviser who has the disgraced former president’s face permanently tattooed on his back.
However Credico was among those who argued against incarceration, saying in a January letter to the judge: ‘I never in any way felt that Stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or to my dog.’
Tomeka Hart, a former Memphis City Schools Board President, stoked the flames further when she outed herself last Wednesday as the jury forewoman in a Facebook post voicing support for the overruled prosecutors.
‘I have kept my silence for months. Initially, it was for my safety. Then, I decided to remain silent out of fear of politicizing the matter,’ Hart wrote.
‘But I can’t keep quiet any longer. I want to stand up for Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis – the prosecutors on the Roger Stone trial.
‘It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.
‘For that, I wanted to speak up for them and ask you to join me in thanking them for their service.’
Hart, it further emerged, had unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012 and had participated in anti-Trump rallies and protests.
She had frequently denounced Trump on social media, calling the President and his supporters racists, and posted emojis of hearts and fist pumps after finding Stone guilty last November.
Hart had also re-tweeted a post by pundit Bakari Sellers dismissing Stone’s claims that the FBI used excessive force when they arrested him at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home in January 2019.
Sellers had listed black victims of ‘police force’, including Sandra Bland, Walter Scott and Eric Gardner, scoffing: ‘But Roger Stone!!! Think about that.’
Stone’s lawyers have already made one failed attempt to secure a re-trial, arguing that a completely different juror, an IRS employee who worked with the Justice Department on criminal tax cases, should have been struck.
The juror admitted reading news articles about Stone’s arrest but denied having any opinions about Stone when asked about it by Judge Jackson in court.
The defense had failed to demonstrate the ‘sort of inherent bias’ that would prompt a retrial, Judge Jackson ruled.
Stone entered the political arena in 1972 when he ditched his studies at George Washington University, supporting Nixon in his re-election campaign then landing a job on his administration.
In one of his first stunts he contributed $135 to one of Nixon’s Republican rivals in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance – then slipped the receipt to a journalist.
During congressional hearings into the Watergate scandal in 1973 it emerged Stone had recruited a spy to infiltrate the campaigns of several of Nixon’s Democratic rivals.
He was fired from his job with then-Senator Bob Dole but went on to work for several more presidential campaigns: those of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and, eventually, his longtime friend Donald Trump, who first hired Stone to lobby for his casino businesses in the 1990s.
The National Enquirer in 1996 revealed that Stone had placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone, 72. Stone later referred to himself in an interview as ‘a libertarian and a libertine’ and a ‘trysexual – I’ve tried everything’.
The six Trump associates to be convicted in Mueller probe
GUILTY: ROGER STONE
Convicted in November 2019 on seven counts including obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress about his communications with WikiLeaks. Sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Stone was a person of interest to Mueller’s investigators long before his January 2019 indictment, thanks in part due to his public pronouncements as well as internal emails about his contacts with WikiLeks.
In campaign texts and emails, Stone communicated with associates about WikiLeaks following reports the organization had obtained a cache of Clinton-related emails.
According to the federal indictment, Stone gave ‘false and misleading’ testimony about his requests for information from WikiLeaks. He then pressured a witness, comedian Randy Credico, to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify, and pressured him in a series of emails. Following a prolonged dispute over testimony, he called him a ‘rat’ and threatened to ‘take that dog away from you’, in reference to Credico’s therapy dog, Bianca. Stone warned him: ‘Let’s get it on. Prepare to die.’
GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence
Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired.
He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.
GUILTY AND IN JAIL: MICHAEL COHEN
Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to further count of lying to Congress in November 2018. Sentenced to three years in prison and $2 million in fines and forfeitures in December 2018
Cohen was investigated by Mueller but the case was handed off to the Southern District of New York,leaving Manhattan’s ferocious and fiercely independent federal prosecutors to run his case.
Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.
He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.
And he admitted lying to Congress in a rare use of the offense. The judge in his case let him report for prison on March 6 and recommended he serve it in a medium-security facility close to New York City.
GUILTY AND IN JAIL: PAUL MANAFORT
Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Sentenced to 47 months in March 2019. Pleaded guilty to two further charges – witness tampering and conspiracy against the United States. Jailed for total of seven and a half years in two separate sentences. Additionally indicted for mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney, using evidence previously presented by Mueller. That indictment was dismissed by the DA is appealing
Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.
Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts in August 2018. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent due in September did not happen when he pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and witness tampering in a plea bargain. He was supposed to co-operate with Mueller but failed to.
Minutes after his second sentencing hearing in March 2019, he was indicted on 16 counts of fraud and conspiracy by the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., using evidence which included documents previously presented at his first federal trial. The president has no pardon power over charges by district and state attorneys.
GUILTY: RICK GATES
Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence
Gates, a Trump campaign official, was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.
GUILTY AND JAILED: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS
Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Sentenced to 14 days in September 2018, and reported to prison in November. Served 12 days and released on December 7, 2018
Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank.
He agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation but is now highly critical of it.
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