Roger Stone sentence to more than three years in prison for making false statements to investigators throughout the Trump-Russia probe on Thursday, February 20, 2020, after days of drama ensnaring career prosecutors proved that AG Barr was right and trial prosecutors were wrong.
Stone was convicted last fall of lying to Congress and threatening a witness about his efforts for Trump’s 2016 campaign. The Roger Stone sentence is the end of an intense week that provoked Twitter fury from Trump and a reckoning within the Justice Department, leading a prosecutor to declare Thursday: “This prosecution is righteous.” It’s also the near-end of a case that’s had several shocking moments that exposed Trump’s interest in WikiLeaks during the campaign.
A jury in November found Stone guilty on all seven counts with which he was charged. Throughout the 2016 presidential contest, Stone, a longtime political adviser to Trump, established himself as an apparent intermediary between Trump’s campaign and WikiLeaks, based on testimony at Stone’s trial.
In public, Stone bragged that he had inside information on WikiLeaks’ plans to release emails stolen from Democrats, including from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. In private, Stone gave Trump and other campaign officials updates on what hacked emails WikiLeaks planned to release, his trial published.
However, in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017, Stone lied by claiming that he had not communicated with the Trump campaign about what he claimed to have learned regarding WikiLeaks’ plans to release emails, and by refusing that he had exchanged emails or texts linked to WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange, among other topics.
Stone also lied by telling the committee that his intermediary to WikiLeaks was Randy Credico, a comedian and radio host who had interviewed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in August 2016.
Roger Jason Stone Jr. is an American political consultant, author, and lobbyist. In November 2019, subsequent to the Mueller Report and Special Counsel investigation.
Since the 1970s, Stone worked on the campaigns of Republican politicians Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, and Donald Trump. In addition to regularly serving as a campaign adviser, Stone was previously a political lobbyist.
In 1980, he co-founded a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm with Paul Manafort and Charles R. Black Jr. The firm recruited Peter G. Kelly and was renamed Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly in 1984. Throughout the 1980s, BMSK became a top lobbying firm by leveraging its White House connections to attract high-paying clients including U.S. corporations, trade associations, as well as foreign governments. By 1990, it was one of the leading lobbyists for American companies and foreign organizations.
He has described his political modus operandi as “Attack, attack, attack – never defend” and “Admit nothing, reject everything, launch counterattack. Stone first suggested Trump run for President in early 1998 while Stone was Trump’s casino business lobbyist in Washington.
Stone left the Trump campaign on August 8, 2015; nonetheless, as part of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election, two associates of Stone have announced he collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through the 2016 presidential campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton.
Stone and Assange have denied these claims. On January 25, 2019, Stone was arrested at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home in connection with Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation and charged in an indictment with witness tampering, obstructing an official proceeding, and five counts of making false statements.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, while taking a firm stance toward Stone in the courtroom, also told the up to nine years basically sought by federal prosecutors was excessive. Her sentence of 40 months in prison was obviously less than that — yet far more than the probation sought by his defense and certainly tough enough to keep speculation alive about a possible pardon from President Trump.
Trump later announced about Roger Stone’s sentence at an event in Las Vegas that he wants to see the process play out because he has a “very good chance of exoneration,” suggesting he would wait on a possible pardon decision until all Stone’s legal options are exhausted. The president backed Stone as he seeks a new trial, calling the jury in the original trial “tainted” and saying he’ll eventually make a “determination.”
He continued: “I’d love to see Roger exonerated, and I’d love to see it happen.”
It is not obvious whether Stone really did have insider info about Wikileaks’ intentions. Jackson addressed that issue Thursday. “Whether or not Stone was ever actually in communication with Assange, he understood full well” that news of his role as a supposed go-between for Trump campaign with WikiLeaks “could reflect badly on the president,” she told. The judge cited emails that suggest Stone was eager to hide actions in order to protect Trump.
Former FBI Director James Comey replied to a tweet from President Donald Trump with an image of pop star Mariah Carey asking, “Why are you so obsessed with me?”
As of Thursday, the president had directly mentioned Comey in tweets 189 times since the day after Trump fired him on May 9, 2017, and only six times before that. The latest tweet accuses Comey of lying to Congress and leaking “classified information,” as compared to the criminal deeds of former Trump adviser Roger Stone.
“‘ 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?” tweeted Trump, prompting the response from Comey.
The Mueller investigation finally found that Russia did meddle in the election to benefit Trump, although it did not find sufficient evidence for collusion by Trump. Although the president often claims otherwise, the investigation did not exonerate him of colluding with Russia.
Trump has frequently targeted Comey on social media and at rallies, often claiming that he was part of an unfair “witch hunt” against him. A December 2019 report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI and Comey had not acted with any bias against Trump.
Before the Stone tweet, Trump’s most recent mention of Comey falsely claimed that he was involved in the prosecution of disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was granted clemency by Trump on Tuesday.
The former governor was convicted in 2011 of multiple federal corruption charges including attempting to sell the vacant senate seat of former President Barack Obama.
“Rod Blagojevich did not sell the Senate seat. He served 8 years in prison, with many remaining,” tweeted Trump Wednesday. “He paid a big price. Another Comey and gang deal!”
Comey was not involved in the Blagojevich case and was not part of the FBI or the Justice Department throughout the time the Roger Stone sentence was determined.
Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of Blagojevich was accompanied by clemency for several other controversial figures, including pardons for “junk bond king” Michael Milken and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
Speculation over whether Trump could also grant a pardon to Stone has been widespread in recent days. The president has not publicly weighed in on the issue but remarked that his longtime friend has a “very good chance of exoneration” during a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday.