Roger Stone, a longtime friend of and political adviser to Donald Trump, was sentenced to just over three years in prison for lying to Congress and obstructing a federal investigation.
Federal authorities zeroed in on Mr Stone during former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russian election meddling investigation. Those investigators focused on the longtime GOP political operative’s contacts with a Russian hacker and possible exchanges he had with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose organization released reams of Democratic National Committee emails that analysts said likely aided Mr Trump’s successful 2016 White House bid.
The Justice Department initially had planned to recommend a nine-year sentence, but Attorney General William Barr stepped in to suggest to Judge Amy Berman Jackson an alternative with options for shorter prison time. That came after the president called a nearly decade-long sentence a “miscarriage of justice,” prompting Mr Barr to publicly rebuke the president weighing in on Justice Department business in a television interview — which Mr Trump soon defied with more DOJ-themed tweets.
The judge told Mr Stone’s camp and federal prosecutors that a sentence of seven or nine years would be too harsh, but called a sentence of simply probation “insufficient.” She also said Mr Stone was convicted of “covering up for the president,” according to accounts from inside the courtroom, potentially creating difficult optics for a presidential pardon — in an election year in which the incumbent is on the ballot, at least. And she appeared to rebuke Mr Trump, without naming him, saying this: “The court cannot be influenced by those comments,” she said, dubbing them “inappropriate.”
Mr Stone’s legal counsel has requested a new trial after the president suggested he did not receive a fair trial.