NBC News – Roger Stone, a friend of President Donald Trump and longtime Republican campaign adviser, was sentenced to three years, four monthsin federal prison Thursday for obstructing a congressional investigation of Russia’s 2016 presidential election meddling.
But Stone will not have to report to prison until the judge acts on a pending defense motion for a new trial, based on a claim of juror bias.
Asked by Federal District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson if he had any statement to make before she handed down her sentence of 40 months, a $20,000 fine, two years of probation and 250 hours of community service, Stone declined the offer.
Stone’s prison sentence would likely end the career of one of the most controversial and colorful political operatives in American history — a self-described “agent provocateur” who spent a career in the shadows of Republican politics before helping to engineer Trump’s election. As depicted in the Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” he saw Trump’s potential as a presidential candidate earlier than most.
Stone’s lawyers argued that his history in politics, declining health at age 67, and the low likelihood that he would ever commit another crime called for probation, or at most home confinement. Federal prosecutors at first recommended a sentence of seven to nine years. But Attorney General William Barr directed Justice Department lawyers to submit a new court filing, suggesting three to four years would be more appropriate.
President Trump said Tuesday that Stone “was not involved in our campaign at all,” but in August 2015, then-candidate Trump said “I terminated Roger Stone” as a campaign adviser, calling Stone a publicity seeker. But Stone remained in close contact with the campaign and purported to have an inside track on what WikiLeaks was planning.
Stone was also accused of urging Credico to lie to Congress about those contacts by emulating a character from “The Godfather: Part II.” In the movie, Frank Pentangeli is called to testify before a congressional committee investigating organized crime and is expected to implicate Michael Corleone. But when Corleone enters the hearing room along with Pentangeli’s brother, he claims to know nothing about the mob boss.
Stone was never charged with doing anything illegal during the campaign. Instead, the charges were based on his efforts to cover up what he did and to intimidate Credico into doing the same.
While awaiting trial, Stone repeatedly violated the judge’s order not to make public statements about the case. Shortly after he was charged, he posted a photo of the judge on social media with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun sight next to her head.
The details of the defense motion for a new trial have not been disclosed, but Stone’s supporters have said it’s based on comments made by the jury forewoman, Tomeka Hart. When four career prosecutors took themselves off the case after Barr intervened, she said on social media, “It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors.”
“Any suggestion that the prosecutors in this case did anything untoward or unethical is incorrect,” Jackson says. But she disagreed with their original sentencing memo and would likely have not imposed the higher sentence anyway.
Hart ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, a fact she disclosed during jury selection. Asked by Judge Jackson if she could fairly evaluate the evidence during the trial, she said yes, and Stone’s lawyers did not seek to have her removed from the jury pool. But Stone’s supporters said she posted comments critical of President Trump before jurors were summoned for the selection process.
President Trump tweeted last week that “It looked like the foreperson in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias.”
For more than four decades, Stone was a political consultant known for aggressively pursuing and using opposition research. He once co-owned a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence for financial crimes stemming from his lobbying work on behalf of the Ukrainian government.
When Robert Mueller’s special counsel office was shut down last May, Stone’s prosecution was taken over by the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.
In his comments Tuesday, President Trump again called the Mueller investigation a scam.
“I think Roger Stone’s been treated unfairly,” said Trump, who declined to say whether he would consider a pardon. “I’m not even thinking about that.”
As the sentencing was underway Thursday, Trump on Twitter questioned why Stone would get prison time while questioning why former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe or Hillary Clinton would walk free.