Trump associate Roger Stone sentenced to more than three years behind bars

“The truth still exists,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson says. “The truth still matters”

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 20, 2020 2:31PM (EST)

Former campaign advisor to President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, arrives at US District Court in Washington, DC on February 21, 2019.  (Getty/Brendan Smialowski)
Former campaign advisor to President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, arrives at US District Court in Washington, DC on February 21, 2019. (Getty/Brendan Smialowski)

Roger Stone, the self-proclaimed "dirty trickster" and President Donald Trump's oldest political adviser, was sentenced to 40 months in prison Thursday.

"Mr. Stone lied," U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in court as she sentenced him to more than three years in prison followed by 24 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.

"This is intolerable to the administration of justice, and the court should not sit ideally by, shrug its shoulders and say, 'Well, that is just Roger being Roger,'" Jackson said. "The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't . . . [is] a threat to our most fundamental institutions — to the foundations of our democracies. If it goes unpunished, it will not be a victory for one political party: everyone loses. The dismay and disgust at the defendant's belligerence should transcend party."

Jackson added that Stone also violated her court order against talking about the case publicly. 

"He used the tools of social media to achieve the broadest dissemination possible . . . He knew exactly what he was doing," Jackson said. "The defendant engaged in a threatening and intimidating conduct towards the court."

Stone's sentence was handed down after all four prosecutors in his case withdrew following an unprecedented intervention by Attorney General William Barr to reduce the Justice Department's sentencing recommendation from the seven to nine years filed by the prosecutors. The intervention came after Trump repeatedly decried the recommended sentence as "unfair."

A new prosecutor apologized in court "for the confusion" on Thursday, arguing there was a "miscommunication." Jackson said the original sentencing recommendation "has not been withdrawn" and was "well within the guidelines," according to The Washington Post.

"For those who woke up last week and became persuaded that the guidelines are harsh and perhaps sentences shouldn't be driven by strict application of a mathematical formula . . . I can assure you that defense attorneys and judges have been making that argument for a very long time," she said. "But we don't usually succeed in getting the government to agree."

Stone was charged in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation with lying about his contacts with WikiLeaks to the House Intelligence Committee as it investigated the group's release of Democratic emails stolen by Russian military operatives. Stone was convicted of all charges, including witness tampering and obstruction of justice, in November.

The original prosecutors in the case, two of whom served on Mueller's team, argued in their sentencing filing that Stone obstructed Congress' investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, "lied under oath and tampered with a witness," in reference to his longtime associate Randy Credico. "When his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this court and the rule of law," the filing said.

Prosecutors said Stone "made repeated efforts to obtain information from an organization called WikiLeaks that could help the Trump campaign" and "regularly communicated with senior Trump campaign officials."

Trump campaign officials "believed Stone was providing them with non-public information about WikiLeaks' plans" and "viewed Stone as the Trump campaign's access point to WikiLeaks," the filing said.

But Trump's complaints and attacks on the jury foreperson and the Justice Department's intervention sparked concerns that the president would immediately pardon Stone. Trump stoked those concerns when he shared a Fox News clip of host Tucker Carlson urging him to pardon Stone immediately.

"President Trump could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon, and there are indications tonight that he will do that," Carlson said in the clip, calling Stone's prosecution "wholly political" and "a shocking insult to the American tradition of equal justice."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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