Roger Stone sentenced to 3 years for lying, witness tampering as case roils DOJ
GOP operative Roger Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison on Thursday after days of drama ensnaring career prosecutors, the attorney general and the president over how severe Stone's punishment should be for making false statements to investigators during the Trump-Russia probe.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, while taking a firm stance toward Stone in the courtroom, also said the up to nine years originally sought by federal prosecutors was excessive. Her sentence of 40 months in prison was considerably 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.
In court, Jackson repeatedly made clear she holds Stone responsible for his circumstances, as his lawyers sought leniency.
“Mr. Stone lied,” Jackson said. She also said Stone injected himself “smack” into a political controversy and was not “persecuted.”
Jackson called Stone’s actions “deliberate” and “planned” – lamenting his “utter disrespect” for the rule of law – but also noted supporters sent “compelling” letters to the court and described him as “caring and generous.”
Stone chose not to speak when given the opportunity. He showed no emotion when the sentence was read. Later, he left the courthouse without speaking as he was mobbed by media and onlookers, one shouting, "Lock him up!"
Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump before he was elected president, was convicted in November on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Stone was not charged with any underlying crime of coordinating with Russia during the election though Mueller's team investigated Stone over tweets claiming to be in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
During an oral presentation Thursday in court before the sentence was announced, Stone attorney Seth Ginsberg downplayed the charges, saying there was no real planning or preparation involved in the obstruction conviction against Stone that would justify an aggravating enhancement of the sentencing guidelines.
Jackson, though, also referenced how Stone had violated court orders not to talk about the case, accusing him of “intimidating behavior” including a social media post that included a picture of her with what looked like gun crosshairs over her head. Stone blamed staff for the Instagram post, but the judge sharply rebuked him.
“He knew exactly what he was doing,” Jackson said, adding that it “was designed to disrupt” the proceedings.
During Stone’s sentencing hearing, Trump himself weighed in, questioning the “fairness” of prosecuting his former associate. It follows widespread speculation of a possible pardon for Stone.
“’They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.’ @CNN. 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?” he tweeted.