Roger Stone, longtime political strategist, GOP ratfucker and personal friend to President Donald Trump, was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison.
I have waited years for this day to arrive when justice finally comes for Roger Stone, who has always escaped justice for his crimes in the past because of his connections to Republican politicians.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., tore into Department of Justice attorneys Thursday over the recent events that have embroiled the trial of Roger Stone.
Stone, who was convicted in November on all seven felony charges against him for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation involving his contacts with WikiLeaks amid Russian election interference in 2016, was sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson to 40 months in prison, or a little more than three years.
He was also handed a $20,000 fine, two years probation and 250 community service hours.
“If it goes unpunished, it will not be a victory for one party of another. Everyone looses,” Jackson told a visibly emotionless Stone. [From Vox: “The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t” poses “a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy,” she said.] “For that reason the dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”
“Nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t a stunt and it wasn’t a prank.”
The sentencing was far less than the seven to nine years originally recommended by DOJ, and it comes amid Stone’s case rocking the Justice Department last week when the president inserted himself publicly with the post of a tweet criticizing the sentence proposal, the judge and even the prosecutors.
The subsequent effect was a request for “far less” prison time from DOJ, though it lacked specifics. In a direct rebuke, the four career prosecutors on the case quickly removed themselves, and one of them left government service entirely.
“For those of you who are new to this or woke up last week and became persuaded that the guidelines were too harsh,” she said, the recommendation is “advisory and not mandatory.” Jackson went on to say that she has “the authority and the duty” to make an appropriate sentence as she sees fit.
“Defense attorneys and many judges have been making that point for a long time,” she continued. “But we don’t usually succeed in getting the government to agree.”
Jackson also expressed concern that the new team of prosecutors lacked knowledge of the case, considering they joined just days before it came to a close after more than a year.
“I fear that you know less of the case, saw less of the testimony and the exhibits than just about anyone else in this courtroom,” she said.
Despite the political drama swirling around DOJ and the president, Jackson said her sentence was not swayed.
The lecture was followed by prosecutor John Crabb offering a multi-pronged apology and explanation. He said the original team wrote the first sentencing memo and that he was part of the approval process. Ultimately, Crabb explained there was a “miscommunication” as to what Barr’s expectations were. Given the opportunity by Jackson to elaborate, he declined, citing personal deliberations he did not wish to make public.
“I want to state and emphasis the original sentencing memorandum was done in good faith,” Crabb said. “Sentencing is not an exact science, and reasonable minds can differ.”
He appeared to back a harsher sentence for Stone, one that would be more in line with the department’s original proposal rather than its followup recommendation.
“The court should impose a substantial period of incarceration,” Crabb added, but failed to offer specifics. “This prosecution was and this prosecution is righteous.”
Despite receiving his sentence, Stone, known as a “dirty trickster,” will not be immediately carted off to prison.
Anti-Trump social media posts by the jury forewoman have fueled allegations by Stone’s defense team of juror misconduct and spawned a motion for a new trial. Jackson will determine whether his request should be granted, in which case Stone’s sentence would be null and void.
But Jackson, in her usual no holds barred fashion, had no shortage of ridicule for Stone and the defense of his actions throughout the trial’s proceedings, which she characterized as a “so what?” argument.
“The defense can say, ‘so what.’ But I’ll say this,” Jackson said. “Congress cared. The United States Department of Justice and U.S. Attorneys Office cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I cared.”
In the wake of several controversial pardons and commutations earlier this week, as well as the refusal to put the question to bed, his sentencing raises the specter of whether Trump will pardon his former campaign adviser. Republicans have warned him against taking such action ahead of the election.
Many Democrats have already said Trump asserting himself into such legal matters constitutes the highest level of corruption. They’ve rehashed demands for Barr to resign, something more than 2,000 former DOJ officials have also called for.
“It should go without saying, but to pardon Stone when his crimes were committed to protect Trump would be a breathtaking act of corruption,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter.
President Donald Trump said Thursday he won’t act to grant clemency to his friend and former associate Roger Stone right now, saying he wants the process to play out before making a decision.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” Trump said in Las Vegas. “Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
The President didn’t rule out an eventual pardon or commutation, but said the process should play out first.
“At some point I’ll make a determination, but Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process,” Trump said.
Trump delivered a full-throated defense of his longtime friend, saying: “They said he lied, but other people lied, too.”
Spoken like a true mob boss. For added surrealism:
The President made his remarks before an audience of former prisoners graduating from a program designed to give felons a second chance in society and the workforce.
Trump’s familiar rant against the criminal justice system was met with curious looks from some of the graduates and their families, particularly when he declared: “These people know about a bad jury.”
The venue for the speech was also remarkable, with the President launching into a critique of law enforcement — referring to “dirty cops” at one point — from a room inside the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during a criminal justice reform event.
You just can’t make this shit up.