“He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president,” said Judge Amy Berman Jackson. “He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
After a tumultuous week at the Department of Justice that included federal prosecutors withdrawing from his case over sentencing recommendations, Roger Stone has finally learned his fate. On Thursday, President Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign advisor was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his role in obstructing a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In handing down her sentence, Judge Amy Berman Jackson made a point to say that Stone’s actions got him where he is today—not politics. “He was not prosecuted to give anyone a political advantage,” she said. “He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
Last week, federal prosecutors had initially recommended Stone, who was convicted in November on seven felony charges, be sentenced seven to nine years in prison. After the president complained on Twitter that the recommendation was “horrible and very unfair,” however, senior DOJ officials, including Attorney General William Barr, intervened say the recommendation was too harsh.
Afterward, all four federal prosecutors withdrew from the legal proceedings, and one resigned from the DOJ altogether. A spokesperson said the DOJ did not consult the White House on its decision to revise the sentencing recommendations. Many, however, have criticized the optics.
Whether or not Trump pressured the Justice Department to intervene on behalf of his friend is unclear. But the president’s comments and Barr’s actions were certainly on the minds of Democratic senators during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting last week. Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein kicked off the hearing by calling for an investigation into the matter: “This interference is, quite simply, without precedent,” she said.
Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in March to answer questions about the way Stone’s case was handled, as well as what appeared to be backlash against the U.S. Attorney who oversaw the office managing the case. Jessie Liu had been nominated for a top role in the Treasury Department, but that nomination was rescinded by the White House last week.
More than 1,100 former DOJ attorneys and officials have also called on Barr to step down. “Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” they wrote in an open letter released Sunday. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”
During Stone’s sentencing hearing, federal prosecutor John Crabb Jr. apologized for the sentencing confusion. “The Department of Justice and the United States attorney’s office is committed to enforcing the law without fear, favor or political influence,” he said.
Stone, meanwhile, is calling for a new trial based on allegations of juror bias.
This article was originally published on Courier.
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