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Judge to proceed with sentencing Trump ally Roger Stone, despite sentencing controversy

Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, leaves the Prettyman United States Courthouse after facing charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that he lied to Congress and engaged in witness tampering Jan. 29, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
February 18, 2020

A federal judge has ordered sentencing to proceed against Roger Stone this week despite ongoing disputes within the Department of Justice (DOJ) about the severity of the sentence and allegations of bias affecting Stone’s conviction

Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday ordered Stone to be sentenced by Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Stone, an ally of President Donald Trump, was convicted in November on charges of making false statements and obstructing investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Jackson’s latest decisions comes amid a number of high profile factors surrounding the case.

Last week, when the DOJ attorneys prosecuting Stone’s case filed their sentencing recommendations, they requested he face between seven and nine years in prison. The prison sentence drew criticisms from Trump who described it as a “horrible and very unfair situation.”

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr also alleged that he ordered the prosecutors on Stone’s case to defer to the judge for sentencing and that those prosecutors had instead defied his order and requested a heavier punishment against Stone.

Barr argued that the up to nine-year sentence was excessive and ordered the sentencing request revised in a move that saw the prosecutors quit the case and more than 1,100 former DOJ officials sign a petition calling for Barr’s resignation.

As the controversy over the sentencing continued, the issue was further complicated as Tomeka Hart, the jury foreperson who led the jury that found Stone guilty expressed support for the prosecutors on the case, Fox News reported. After she spoke out, Hart’s past social media comments resurfaced, indicating she held political views critical of Trump and his supporters.

Hart at points called Trump and his supporters racists and even mocked criticisms of the 67-year-old Stone’s dramatic 2019 arrest, which featured heavily armed FBI SWAT teams, armored vehicles, helicopters and watercraft surrounding his waterfront property.

Stone’s defense team has argued that Hart’s newly resurfaced comments indicate she was not able to render her guilty verdict with impartiality.

Jackson issued her Tuesday decision even as Stone’s defense team motioned for a new trial and requested Jackson delay his sentencing until she ruled on the motion.

In a conference call with the parties, Jackson said delaying the sentencing “would not be a prudent thing to do.”

She said she would proceed with the sentencing, however she would delay carrying out that sentence pending the resolution of the motion for a new trial.

Following Jackson’s decision, Trump again criticized the process that led to Stone’s conviction, sharing comments by former New Jersey superior court Judge Andrew Napolitano criticizing the jury selection and calling for a new trial.