Mitt Romney: Stone Commutation Is ‘Unprecedented, Historic Corruption’

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah is the first Republican member of Congress to publicly denounce Donald Trump’s commutation of long-time adviser Roger Stone’s prison sentence.

Stone was convicted on all seven felony charges brought against him including lying to Congress and witness tampering. The 67-year-old was sentenced to 40 months in prison. But late Friday evening, Trump officially commuted his sentence before Stone’s report to prison date on July 14.

Romney tweeted, “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”

Donald Trump Commutes Prison Sentence Of His Buddy Roger Stone

Roger Stone (screen capture)

I guess this is where I write “I told you so.”

CNN reports Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of longtime adviser Roger Stone.

In February, Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison after a jury found him guilty of seven felony charges that included lying to Congress and witness tampering. He was scheduled to report to prison on Tuesday, July 14.

From CNN:

Trump has faced immense pressure from some of his political allies to pardon Stone after he was sentenced to more than three years in prison, in part for lying to Congress about his effort to set up a backchannel between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. Stone was also convicted of witness tampering and obstruction related to Congress’ inquiry into Russian meddling.

Stone, 67, was indicted in January 2019 when armed FBI agents arrested him at his Florida home. He had covered up records that would have revealed he sought to reach WikiLeaks in 2016 to help Trump, lied about the effort when he testified to a Republican-led congressional committee, then threatened another congressional witness, according to the charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller and the DC US Attorney’s Office.

Trump and Stone have tried to cast his prosecution and conviction as a politically motivated witch hunt. But prosecutors argued to a jury that Stone threatened a witness and lied in part to protect the President. The jury agreed, finding Stone guilty of all seven counts he faced.

Trump’s act of commuting Stone’s sentence leaves his criminal conviction in place but reduces the punishment by shortening a sentence of incarceration.

The Washington Post notes, “According to Justice Department standards for considering clemency petitions, it does not imply forgiveness of the underlying offense or even reflect on the fairness of the original sentence, and usually the department does not consider requests until a person begins serving his or her sentence.”

Judge Rules No New Trial For Trump Confidante Roger Stone

Roger Stone (screen capture)

Donald Trump’s longtime friend and ally, Roger Stone, has failed in his quest for a new trial after he was found guilty on seven felony counts including obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies.

From the New York Times:

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against Roger J. Stone Jr. refused on Thursday to grant him a new trial, rejecting the defense’s argument of juror misconduct that President Trump has also repeatedly trumpeted.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington ordered Mr. Stone to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as he is notified to do so. She also released him and his lawyers from a gag order she imposed months ago.

The judge’s decision appears to end one of the most politically fraught federal criminal cases in recent years. In a last-ditch effort to keep their client out of prison, Mr. Stone’s lawyers had claimed that the jury forewoman had improperly concealed a bias against Mr. Stone, justifying a new trial.

The jury convicted Mr. Stone, 67, in November of seven felonies for an attempt to thwart a congressional inquiry that threatened his longtime friend Mr. Trump, and Judge Jackson sentenced him in February to 40 months in prison.

Additionally, CNN reports, “All 12 of Roger Stone’s jurors wrote in a series of powerful, anonymized statements this week that they feel harassed, afraid and do not want more information about them revealed to the public, especially after President Donald Trump and right-wing media criticized them for their conviction of the longtime Trump friend.”

Donald Trump is certain to pardon Stone. Mark my words.

Trump Ally Roger Stone Sentenced To 40 Months Prison Term

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday sentenced Donald Trump’s longtime friend, Roger Stone, to a 40-month prison term for obstructing a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

From the Washington Post:

In a lengthy speech before imposing the penalty, Jackson seemed to take aim at Trump, saying that Stone “was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” She also appeared to call out Attorney General William P. Barr, whose intervention to reduce career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation she called “unprecedented.” But she said the politics surrounding the case had not influenced her final decision.

Jackson made clear she thought Stone’s crimes were serious. She called his testimony “plainly false” and “a flat-out lie” and said his misdirection “shut out important avenues” for Congress to investigate. The judge said Stone knew “it could reflect badly on the president if someone learned” about his efforts to obtain damaging information from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks about Clinton, who was then running against Trump for president.

Prosecutors said the longtime GOP operative lied during testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in September 2017 to conceal his central role in the Trump campaign’s efforts to learn about computer files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks. Stone also threatened a witness who was an associate of his in an attempt to prevent the man from cooperating with lawmakers.

In addition to the prison time, Judge Jackson ordered Stone to pay a $20,000 fine, do community service and submit to substance abuse testing.

Stone was convicted on all seven counts of lying to Congress and tampering with a witness by a jury last November. He is the sixth Trump associate convicted of crimes discovered by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation.

I continue to believe Trump will pardon Stone sometime in the near future.

1,100 Former Justice Department Officials Call On AG Barr To Resign

Attorney General Bill Barr (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

From The Hill:

More than 1,100 former Department of Justice (DOJ) officials are calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign in the wake of the DOJ’s decision to ask for a shorter prison sentence for Roger Stone, a longtime ally and friend of President Trump.

“Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words,” the group of ex-officials wrote in a letter shared on Sunday by Protect Democracy, a nonprofit watchdog group. “Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice’s reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign.”

The public statement arrived as Barr and the Justice Department face increased scrutiny over their actions in the Stone case. Four prosecutors resigned from the case last week, and one left the job altogether after Barr and other DOJ leaders asked for a lighter prison sentence than the one the front-line prosecutors initially recommended.

Stone’s trial was born out of evidence found during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference. A jury found Stone guilty of all seven charges brought against him.

Following Trump Meltdown DOJ Will Reduce Roger Stone Prison Sentence Recommendation

Roger Stone (screen capture)

A senior Justice Department official tells the Washington Post the DOJ now plans to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, who was convicted in November of obstructing Congress and witness tampering in the Robert Mueller investigation.

The announcement comes after Donald Trump ranted on Twitter about the requested seven-to-nine year recommendation.

In a stunning rebuke of career prosecutors that will surely raise questions about political interference in the case, a senior Justice Department official said the department “was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation in the Roger Stone case last night.”

“That recommendation is not what had been briefed to the department,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive case. “The department finds the recommendation extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses. The department will clarify its position later today.”

The statement came hours after Trump tweeted about the sentence prosecutors recommended, saying: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” The senior Justice Department official, though, said the decision to revise prosecutors’ recommendation came before Trump’s tweet.

Let’s face it, folks. Trump is going to pardon Stone AND Michael Flynn. No matter what, no matter what prison sentence they get, he will pardon them.

Mark my words.

News Round-Up: February 10, 2020

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Hunky Dan Tai (above) starts the week looking forward – “Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Follow Dan on Instagram here.

CBS News: Pete Buttigieg (who was named the victor of the Iowa caucuses by a squeak) is asking for a partial recanvass for 66 precincts as well as a recanvass of all in-state satellite caucus locations. The former South Bend mayor said he believes the discrepancies identified by his campaign would result in a net increase of 14 state delegate equivalents if corrected.

Oscars 2020: I loved Janelle Monáe’s opening number for the Academy Awards. Beginning with the theme from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and then moving into a robust celebration of “all the amazing talent in this room,” the 34-year-old told the audience, “I’m so proud to stand here as a black, queer artist, telling stories.” The dancers were on point, the visuals creative, and when Billy Porter joined the number to knock out some “I’m Still Standing,” it all went over the top. #Bravo

Washington Post: Federal prosecutors on Monday said longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone deserves a sentence of 7 to 9 years in prison for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness related to his efforts to learn about hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Virginia: The Virginia state House on Monday passed HB 972, which would decriminalize marijuana, by a vote of 64-34. The state Senate is expected to pass its own version shortly. Gov. Ralph Northam has signaled his support for the measure.

Out: Netflix announced today that the popular series Sex Education will, indeed, return for a third season.

USA Today: For the first time in the 2020 Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took the lead in a national Quinnipiac University poll, overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden, just after the Iowa caucuses and one day ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. Sanders received 25% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, with Biden at 17%.

Roger Stone, Former Trump Aide, Convicted On 7 Felony Charges

Roger Stone

Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, was convicted today in federal court of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies.

It took jurors barely seven hours of deliberation before convicting him on all counts.

Stone faces up to 50 years in prison, although guidelines suggest he’ll receive less than that.

From the New York Times:

For decades, Roger J. Stone Jr. played politics as a kind of performance art, starring himself as a professional lord of mischief, as a friend once called him. He tossed bombs and spun tales from the political periphery with no real reckoning, just a reputation as a dirty trickster.

On Friday morning, a reckoning arrived, the consequences of his efforts to sabotage a congressional investigation that threatened his longtime friend President Trump.

Mr. Stone, 67, was convicted in federal court of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Jurors deliberated for a little over seven hours before convicting him on all counts. Together, the charges carry a maximum prison term of 50 years.

In a last-minute bid for salvation, prosecutors said that Mr. Stone appealed to Mr. Trump for a pardon on Thursday, using a right-wing conspiracy theorist who runs the website Infowars as his proxy. Mr. Trump attacked the guilty verdict against Mr. Stone in a tweet on Friday but made no mention of a pardon.

Stone is the 6th former Trump associate to be convicted in cases stemming from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

News Round-Up: January 28, 2019

Some news items you might have missed:

• I just came across InstaHunk Thara (above), who basically has it ALL going on. #woof

• Speaking to Rolling Stone, Oscar winner Michael Caine calls his same-sex kiss with Christopher Reeve in the film Deathtrap “a bit of a disaster.”

• Longtime Donald Trump confidant, Roger Stone, told reporters the FBI stormed his house “with greater force than was used to take down bin Laden.” Note – Bin Laden was shot in the head and dropped in the ocean. I don’t think the two experiences are comparable…

• Acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker told reporters today that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is nearing the end.

• A guy goes on Jeopardy, wins almost $100K and wins hearts by blithely mentioning his husband in passing.

• I’ve been meaning to post this for days: a dad and son, both dressed as Frozen’s Elsa, dance to “Let It Go.” The video was captioned, “Mom is gone, no stress.”

The dad told CBS News, “It’s important to teach children you can do whatever you want to do. It’s important to embarrass yourself and let go.”