Can you say pardon? I knew you could! Prosecutors filed a sentence recommendation yesterday in their case against Roger Stone, a former Donald Trump adviser convicted on several counts last November. They envision a prison sentence for the 67-year-old between seven to nine years. It’s more likely to be nine to eleven months:
In a 26-page memo, prosecutors said, “Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness.”
They added, “When his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law.” …
During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Stone, 67, as a serial liar who tried to bully witnesses into not cooperating with authorities. They charged Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, with making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering in a case that was an offshoot of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
As Chuck Ross notes in his report at The Daily Caller, Stone never got linked to Russia’s operations in their 2016 merry-prankster campaign. He did, however, fail to cooperate rather spectacularly:
But despite linking Stone to foreign election meddling, the 67-year-old Republican political operative was never charged with working with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Instead, the charges against Stone involved his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee about his interactions with associates regarding the topic of WikiLeaks, which released emails hacked from Democrats in 2016. Prosecutors said that Stone lied when he denied speaking with anyone on the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.
Stone was also convicted on charges that he obstructed the House investigation and tampered with a potential witness, Randy Credico.
Specifically, Stone texted Credico to “prepare to die, c***s****r” if he cooperated with investigators. Credico told the court that he didn’t take the threat seriously in a physical sense, asking in a letter to sentence Stone to just probation. Unfortunately for Stone, investigators and prosecutors take witness tampering seriously for other reasons, as well as obstruction and making false statements to Congress and investigators.
We found out how serious they take it when Michael Cohen got three years just for lying to Congress. People who also attempt to intimidate witnesses to cover it up, no matter how serious they are with their physical threats, are almost certain to get tougher sentencing demands from prosecutors.
That didn’t make Trump very happy after his New Hampshire rally last night. After getting back to the White House, Trump retweeted Ross’ earlier tweets about Credico’s appeal on Stone’s behalf, and then added his own thoughts about the sentencing recommendation:
Interestingly, Trump didn’t seem this unhappy over Cohen’s three-year sentence for obstruction and false statements. That’s because Cohen spent months trying to sell Trump out to stay out of prison, or even just to postpone it. (Unsuccessfully, as it turned out.) Stone has remained a loyal soldier, which is why Trump is attacking prosecutors today over the sentencing recommendation.
Needless to say, this is not a good idea. Trump’s loyalty to a long-time friend is commendable, perhaps, but not his attempt to interfere in an ongoing prosecution. For lack of a better word, it looks swampy, especially since there seems to be little doubt about Stone’s conviction or his actions, especially the threat to Credico. If you lie under oath and threaten witnesses who can expose it, don’t be surprised if the Department of Justice throws the book at you, no matter who your friends are or what the context is. (Better to just keep your mouth shut in the first place.) Friends in high places are best advised to stick to character witness testimony rather than attacking the prosecutors for doing their jobs.
Anyway, Stone’s not likely to serve nine years. He’s more likely to get pardoned in nine months, when Trump can safely issue the pardon after the election. Win or lose, Trump has at least two months to use his clemency power to settle all the accounts on Mueller’s convictions. If he loses, he’ll be out of office by January anyway; if he wins, he’ll have four years and no real political accountability for pardoning Stone either. The over-under on Stone’s heartwarming release is Thanksgiving, and I’m taking the under.