Stone sentenced to 3-1/3 years, Trump signals no immediate pardon for adviser

By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday sentenced President Donald Trump’s long-time adviser Roger Stone to three years and four months in prison and said his lies to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election posed a threat to American democracy.

After U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced the veteran Republican operative in Washington, Trump indicated he has no immediate plans to pardon Stone and would let the legal process play out, while adding that “at some point I’ll make a determination.”

“I personally think he was treated very unfairly,” Trump said in Las Vegas.

In a stern lecture during a 2-1/2-hour sentencing hearing, Jackson delivered an implicit rebuke to Trump, who has attacked her along with the jury and prosecutors in the high-profile case.

“There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution,” Jackson said, citing words that the Republican president has used.

Stone’s lawyer had asked that he get no prison time. The 67-year-old Stone, who has been a friend and adviser to Trump for decades, was convicted on Nov. 15 on all seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

“He was not prosecuted – as some have complained – for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president,” Jackson said.

“The truth still exists. The truth still matters,” Jackson added. “Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our fundamental institutions – to the very foundation of our democracy.”

The judge also said Stone “knew exactly what he was doing” when he posted an image on social media last year with a gun’s cross-hairs placed over her head.

“The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct toward the court,” Jackson said. “This is intolerable to the administration of justice.”

Stone declined to speak at the hearing. Clad in a dark gray pinstripe suit with a polka dot handkerchief in the pocket, Stone stood at a lectern as the judge delivered the sentence.

After leaving, Stone – still subject to a judicial gag order – told reporters, “I have nothing to say.” In a chaotic scene outside the courthouse, Stone walked through a throng of people with a slight smile on his face and climbed into a waiting vehicle.

Stone’s lawyers have asked Jackson for a new trial, and his allies have complained that some of the jurors have expressed anti-Trump sentiments on social media. Some Trump’s allies have urged him to pardon Stone.

At a Las Vegas event for rehabilitated prisoners, Trump praised Stone as a “good person” and “smart guy” while repeating his claim that the trial’s jury forewoman was “totally tainted.” Trump said he would not use the presidency’s “great powers” as Stone seeks a new trial, but left open the possibility of a pardon.

“I’m going to watch the process. I’m going to watch it very closely,” Trump said.

Democrats said a pardon would be a green light for others to break the law to further Trump’s interests.

“To pardon Stone when his crimes were committed to protect Trump would be a breathtaking act of corruption,” Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment drive against Trump that ended in his Senate acquittal this month, wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to prominent convicted white-collar criminals including financier Michael Milken and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Jackson’s sentence fell well short of the seven to nine years initially recommended by the case’s original prosecutors before they were overruled by the Justice Department after Trump complained publicly. Those prosecutors quit the case. Jackson, appointed by Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, said the department’s reversal did not influence her sentencing decision. The judge also fined Stone $20,000.

“This was still a very substantial sentence, especially for a non-violent, first-time offender of his age,” said Mark Allenbaugh, a consultant who formerly worked for the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Stone was one of several Trump associates who were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

He was convicted of lying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.


Defense attorney Seth Ginsberg said Stone’s career as a self-described “dirty trickster” overshadowed other aspects of a spiritual man who has served as a mentor, loves animals and is devoted to his family.

“Mr. Stone is, in fact, not simply that public persona, but a human being,” he said.

The judge noted Stone was not charged with or convicted of having any role in conspiring with Russia. But Jackson said Stone’s effort to obstruct a congressional investigation into Russian election meddling “was deliberate, planned – not one isolated incident.” The investigators were not some “secret anti-Trump cabal,” Jackson said, but lawmakers on a committee led at the time by Republicans.

Stone’s career has stretched from the Watergate scandal era of the early 1970s to Trump’s campaign four years ago. Stone has labeled himself an “agent provocateur” and famously has the face of former President Richard Nixon tattooed on his back.

Wearing sunglasses and a dark fedora as he entered the courthouse accompanied by an entourage of family, friends and lawyers, Stone strode past a giant inflatable rat dressed as Trump and a sign calling for his pardon. One onlooker shouted: “Traitor!”

After prosecutors made their sentencing recommendation last week, Trump called them “corrupt” and railed against this “miscarriage of justice.” Attorney General William Barr intervened and the Justice Department overruled the recommendation. Congressional Democrats have accused Trump and Barr of politicizing the U.S. criminal justice system and threatening the rule of law.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Makini Brice, Jeff Mason, Lisa Lambert, Steve Holland and David Morgan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Will Dunham)

Trump stands by attorney general who accused him of making job ‘impossible’

(Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he has total confidence in U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who last week said in an interview that Trump’s tweeting habit had made it impossible for him to do his job.

“I do make his job harder…I do agree with that,” Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One. “The Attorney General is a man with great integrity.”

Last week senior Justice Department officials withdrew an earlier sentencing recommendation for longtime Trump friend Roger Stone, who was found guilty in November of seven counts of lying to Congress, prompting upheaval within the department.

More than 1,000 former department officials have now called for Barr to resign.

Trump has used Twitter to attack the four prosecutors who had argued the case as well as the judge presiding over it.

Barr said in an ABC Interview last Thursday that he cannot do his job “with a constant background commentary” and that it is “time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.”

While Trump offered words of support for Barr, he also spoke enthusiastically about tweeting. “Social media for me has been very important because it gives me a voice,” he said.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Howard Goller)

Trump ally Stone denies collusion with Russia

U.S. political consultant Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, speaks to reporters after appearing before a closed House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican political consultant Roger Stone, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, flatly denied allegations of collusion between the president’s associates and Russia during the 2016 U.S. election in a meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday.

In a 47-page opening statement seen by Reuters before his appearance before the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Stone said he viewed it “as a political proceeding” and accused some committee members of making “provably false” statements to create the impression of collusion with Russia.

After spending almost three hours behind closed doors taking questions from committee members, Stone again denied accusations that he had engaged in improper conduct during the 2016 campaign but was much more contentious than in the rambling statement.

“I am aware of no evidence whatsoever of collusion by the Russian state or anyone in the Trump campaign,” Stone told reporters.

The House panel is one of the main congressional committees investigating allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and probing whether any Trump associates colluded with Moscow.

Russia denies any such efforts, and Trump has dismissed any talk of collusion.

Stone said he had had a frank exchange with committee members, but described some clashes between Democrats and Republicans. He said he answered all of their questions except for refusing to identify an “opinion journalist” who had acted as a go-between between Stone and Julian Assange.

Assange is the publisher of WikiLeaks, which released emails stolen from Democrats that helped Trump’s campaign.

After Stone spoke, Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Stone had declined to answer one line of questions, and the panel might have to subpoena him to return and do so.

Schiff declined to say whether those questions were related to Assange.


Stone, one of Trump’s closest political advisers in the years before he ran for president, was formerly a partner in a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign manager. Manafort has also been scrutinized in the investigations into Russia and the election. In August, FBI agents raided his home.

Stone said Manafort’s attorneys had informed his attorneys that federal prosecutors planned to indict Manafort.

Stone said he had not heard from Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian involvement in the election and possible collusion, and there were currently no plans for a similar appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Stone said he had spoken to Trump “recently,” but not about his appearance before the committee.

Mike Conaway, the Republican lawmaker overseeing the investigation, said he had no response to Stone. But he said he had watched Stone’s remarks to reporters “and they were very accurate.”

In his written statement, Stone also accused the committee of cowardice because he was not allowed to testify in an open forum. He said he wanted the transcript of his interview to be released.

“I am most interested in correcting a number of falsehoods, misstatements, and misimpressions regarding allegations of collusion between Donald Trump, Trump associates, The Trump Campaign and the Russian state,” Stone said in the statement.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia sought to influence the election to boost Trump’s chances of defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

In his statement, Stone acknowledged his reputation as a tough political strategist, but said he did not engage in any illegal activities.

“There is one ‘trick’ that is not in my bag and that is treason,” he said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Susan Thomas and Jonathan Oatis)