WASHINGTON — A judge sentenced political consultant Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, to 40 months in prison Thursday following his conviction last year on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction.
Update 8:25 p.m. EST Feb. 23: A federal judge denied Roger Stone’s request Sunday to recuse herself two days after President Donald Trump’s confidant accused her of bias.
Berman said Stone’s request was “nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words ‘judge’ and 'biased’ in it,” NBC News reported.
Stone made the request Friday night.
Update 3:40 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Trump told a crowd gathered Thursday in Las Vegas that he believes Stone “has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion.”
“I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do. Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated,” Trump said while delivering a commencement speech at HOPE for Prisoners Graduation. “I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
During the 2016 campaign, Stone mentioned in interviews and public appearances that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of the group’s plans to release hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Testimony revealed that Stone, while appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, named comedian Randy Credico as his intermediary and pressured Credico not to contradict him.
After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should “stonewall it” and “plead the fifth,” he testified. Credico also testified during Stone’s trial that Stone repeatedly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before Congress.
Credico and Stone have had a working relationship for more than dozen years, beginning in 2002 while Credico was working on a third-party candidate’s campaign in that year’s gubernatorial election in New York, according to Politico.
“They talk about witness tampering, but the man that (Stone) was tampering didn’t seem to have that much of a problem with it,” Trump said Thursday. “They’ve known each other for years. It’s not like the tampering that I see on television, when you watch a movie -- that’s called tampering, with guns to people’s heads and lots of other things.”
Update 12:55 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday sentenced Stone to serve a total of 40 months in prison.
Stone is expected to remain free for the next few weeks, Mother Jones reported.
Update 12:35 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has sentenced Roger Stone to serve 40 months, according to Vox.
Update 12:30 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Thursday that Trump’s tweets in support of Stone “were totally inappropriate,” but she said she wouldn’t hold the 67-year-old accountable for the president’s actions, according to Mother Jones.
Last week, Trump took to Twitter to slam a sentencing proposal from DOJ prosecutors, which called for between seven and nine years behind bars, as “horrible and very unfair.”
Update 12 p.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Stone on Thursday that the case against him wasn’t politically motivated but instead “arose because Roger Stone characteristically inserted himself smack in the middle of one of the most incendiary issues of the day,” Courthouse News and Mother Jones reported.
Stone’s sentencing hearing is ongoing.
Update 11:25 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Judge Amy Berman Jackson has called for a brief recess in Stone’s sentencing hearing, Courthouse News reported.
Update 10:35 a.m. EST Feb. 20: Trump questioned the fairness of the case against Stone again Thursday in a tweet as the political consultant appeared in a Washington courthouse for sentencing.
Trump compared Stone’s case to accusations that former FBI director James Comey and former deputy director Andrew McCabe lied to Congress, allegations they’ve denied.
The president’s tweets were posted as Stone appeared before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington.
Original report: The sentencing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.
The action in federal court comes amid Trump's unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant that has led to a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations the president has interfered in the case.
Trump last week criticized a sentencing proposal from DOJ prosecutors, which called for between seven and nine years behind bars, as “horrible and very unfair.”
Afterward, U.S. Attorney General William Barr backed off the sentencing recommendation, though Justice Department officials said the decision had been made Monday night — before Trump's tweet — and that prosecutors had not spoken to the White House about it.
A jury convicted Stone in November on several charges connected to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors said he lied to protect the Trump campaign from embarrassment and scrutiny in its quest for emails hacked by Russian officials and disseminated by WikiLeaks during the election.
Stone was a prominent figure in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He and Trump have been friends since the 1980s, according to The Washington Post.
Rumors have swirled since his conviction that Trump might issue a pardon for him, though he said in December that he hadn’t considered it, USA Today reported.
"I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone compared to what they do to other people, on their side," the president added, according to the newspaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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