Judge Won’t Delay Stone Sentencing, Will Weigh New Trial Request

February 18, 2020 Updated: February 18, 2020
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A federal judge is keeping former Trump campaign associate Roger Stone on track to be sentenced on Feb. 20. She said, however, she won’t send him to prison before considering his request for a new trial.

Stone was convicted of lying to and obstructing Congress and witness tampering. A new team of prosecutors have requested “substantial” prison time for Stone, but said it should be “far less” than the seven to nine years requested by the previous team, which withdrew from the case after the Justice Department nixed their sentencing recommendation as “excessive.”

On Feb. 14, Stone filed a sealed motion for a new trial, alleging juror misconduct. On Feb. 18, he amended the motion. The same day, the government filed an opposition to the original motion, also under seal.

The motions haven’t been unsealed by the court, but likely pertain to the lead juror on the Stone case, Tomeka Hart, a former Democratic candidate for Congress who repeatedly made disparaging comments on Twitter about President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Stone, a conservative campaign strategist, has known Trump for decades and has been one of his most loyal supporters.

During the jury selection process, Hart said that Stone’s affiliation with the Trump campaign would “absolutely” not affect her “ability to judge him fairly and impartially.”

During a Feb. 18 teleconference, District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with the new prosecutors and stayed the course on the sentencing.

“I think that delaying the sentencing would not be a prudent thing to do under all the circumstances unless I’m required to do so,” she said, according to Politico.

The defense wanted a brief delay of the sentencing.

Jackson also said that she won’t execute the sentencing and send Stone to prison before addressing his new trial request. She said she was considering holding a hearing on it.

The new prosecutors on the case are John Crabb, deputy chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia, and J.P. Cooney, deputy chief of the fraud and public corruption section in the same office (pdf). Cooney was responsible for the plea deal for former congressional IT staffer Imran Awan, who was let go with no prison time after admitting to one count of bank fraud (pdf).

Twitter Comments

Trump has drawn ire, including from his Attorney General William Barr, for criticizing the sentencing of Stone on Twitter.

More than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called on Barr to resign, alleging Barr intervened in the Stone case as a favor to Trump. The Justice Department said the case wasn’t discussed with the White House. Barr said Trump hasn’t asked him to do anything about any case.

Trump–Stone

Stone said it was he who originally conceived, back in the 1980s, the idea that Trump should run for president. He resigned, however, from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in August 2015.

“I am a strategist and a campaign cannot have two strategists,” he told BBC in 2018.

Trump said he fired Stone.

“I really don’t want publicity seekers who want to be on magazines or who are out for themselves,” Trump told The Washington Post at the time. “This campaign is not about them. It’s about victory and making America great again.”

Stone continued to assist the campaign after being fired and has supported Trump’s presidency.

Update: The article has been updated with information about the new prosecutors handling the Roger Stone case.

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