Justice gets done, despite the tweet-bleating of Trump and the intervention of Barr. The Trumpocracy’s court jester is sentenced to 40 months in prison (three years, four months, $20,000 fine, two years probation, plus community service). There will be an appeal, as well as speculation about a Trump pardon/commutation, as the news cycle has featured a pardon spree that created one among many media frames.
“Witnesses do not get to decide for themselves whether Congress is entitled to the facts.”
On Stone's defense of “So what?” judge echoes prosecutors: “Of all the circumstances in this case, that may be the most pernicious. The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn’t … are a threat to our most fundamental institutions”
— Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp) February 20, 2020
- Judge Berman Jackson says she reviewed both government sentencing recommendations, from the trial prosecutors and from their supervisor. “I note that the initial memo has not been withdrawn,” she added.
- “I have read and I appreciate all the letters and I've considered all of the sentencing materials,” she said.
- More from judge: “For those who woke up last week and became persuaded that the guidelines are harsh … defense attorneys and judges have been making that argument for a very long time … But we don’t usually succeed in getting the government to agree.”
- Seth Ginsberg, defense attorney, on why threats to Randy Credico were not serious: “Mr. Stone is known for using rough, provocative, hyperbolic language.”
- First words from government, through John Crabb: “The fact is that the defendant threatened Mr. Credico's personal safety and his pet… we believe the enhancement applies.” Judge agrees, applies sentencing enhancement for threatening Randy Credico
- “The defendant referred to this as banter, which it hardly is,” judge says quoting from some of the profane texts from Stone to Credico. Of Credico's letter to court saying he didn't feel threatened: “I believe his level of concern may have changed over time.”
- Judge says she will consider how Credico himself took the threats when she determines Stone's actual sentence, but “the guideline plainly applies… even if one considers the threat to the dog to be property damage, that’s covered too.”
- So far, Crabb adhering more closely to arguments in 1st sentencing memorandum than 2nd. He says both agreed obstruction enhancement applies — without adding, as his memo did, “it is unclear to what extent the defendant’s obstructive conduct actually prejudiced the government”
- Judge applies obstruction of justice enhancement, says it “is completely beside the point and is completely speculative” for Stone to say his lies had no material impact on investigation because the Special Counsel eventually got all these communications.
- Berman Jackson sides with defense for first time today, says guideline enhancement for extensive planning and scope does not apply: “I don’t think we’re looking at extensive scope or planning.”
- Berman Jackson grills government on change in position on obstruction ongoing through trial. Crabb: “The guideline enhancement applies here for the reasons set forth in the original sentencing memorandum.” Says he doesn't want to elaborate unless she has questions.
- Harsh comments from judge on Stone's conduct during trial: “Intolerable to the administration of justice,” created concern that someone with “even poorer judgment than he has” would take violent action
- Judge asks why John Crabb is representing the government: “I fear that you know less about this case than possibly anybody else in the court room.”
- Crabb apologized for “confusion,” says it was not caused by the original trial team, which had authorization to file the sentencing memo as they did.
- Crabb says the U.S. Attorney reviewed and approved the original sentencing memo.
- “This prosecution was and this prosecution is righteous,” Crabb says.
- “The court should impose a substantial period of incarceration” but offers no term of years. He will not say if he wrote the second sentencing memo or get into internal deliberations.
- Crabb done. He never repeated the arguments in the second memo for leniency, but did not argue for 7 to 9 years either — said government trusts court to come up with sentence.
- Defense attorney Ginsberg says Stone “is not the larger than life political persona that he plays on tv,” but a “spiritual person” who “devoted himself” to good causes, to family and to employees
- Stone declines to speak. We're now on a 10 to 15 minute break before judge issues her sentence.
- And we're back! “Unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say,” Berman Jackson says.
- Judge begins by defending case against Stone. “He has not been prosecuted by his adversaries or … pursued by his political enemies,” she said; it was Stone who “characteristically injected himself smack into the center of one of the most significant issues of the day.”
- Judge goes over facts of case, says Stone “endeavored mightily” to mislead House intelligence committee:
- “That’s why he was indicted; not for his political activities.”
— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) February 20, 2020
- Reading from his testimony to the committee claiming Credico was his WikiLeaks intermediary, she said, “This is not mere equivocation, this is not the product of confusion …. these answers were clearly false.”
- As for Credico's request for leniency, judge says, “It’s nice that Mr. Credico has forgiven Stone … But all of that says more about Credico than Stone.” Adds that Credico was “nervous” testifying and likely “doesn’t want to be known as the reason behind a tough sentence”
- Cites letters in Stone's favor calling him a good and caring man, judge says: “I am not passing judgment on Roger Stone as a man; that falls to a higher authority.”
- Judge agrees 7 to 9 years is too harsh, and says she doubts she would have thought differently even if not for “unprecedented actions of the Department of Justice in the past week.” But says probation is also “insufficient.”
- Judge pushed back against claims that she silenced Stone, saying he has been free to speak and make money speaking about everything but the case — pointedly noting that was the suggestion of his own “First Amendment lawyer”
- “Many people have weighed in, in letters and calls to chambers, pontificating on cable tv and in blogs, op-eds and tweets,” judge says. She again says she's not sentencing him for his political activity. “I expect he will keep talking,” she says.
- Judge sums up case thusly: “He was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
- She said she would not hold against Stone those who claim he's a victim of political persecution; she also would not listen to liberals who want to see him punished for his political work. “Roger Stone will not be sentenced for who his friends are or who his enemies are.”
- “There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution,” she said. “Witnesses do not get to decide for themselves whether Congress is entitled to the facts.”
- On Stone's defense of “So what?” judge echoes prosecutors: “Of all the circumstances in this case, that may be the most pernicious. The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn’t … are a threat to our most fundamental institutions”
- “The dismay and disgust at the defendant's belligerence should transcend party,” she added. She also defended “jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances.”
At last, a sentence — total of 40 months in the Bureau of Prisons.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) February 20, 2020
— Jared Holt (@jaredlholt) February 20, 2020
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) February 20, 2020
— Ron Nehring (@RonNehring) February 20, 2020
— Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) February 20, 2020
Yesterday, Blago said ‘I’ll vote for’ Trump, Blago declared himself a “Trump-o-crat”
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 20, 2020
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) February 20, 2020
— Pete EVANS (@911CORLEBRA777) February 20, 2020