President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison by federal judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday (February 20) citing a threat to American democracy from his lies to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Who is Roger Stone?
Stone has worked with the Republican party since the 1970s, and is a fan of Richard Nixon, the only American President to have been forced to resign in the face of imminent removal from office following impeachment. Media profiles of Stone have noted that he even has a tattoo of Nixon on his back between his shoulder blades.
Subsequently, Stone worked for Ronald Reagan’s successful Presidential campaigns in 1980 and 1984, and was involved with the campaign of George H W Bush in 1988.
Stone, who has been a political consultant and strategist for decades, has referred to himself as a “dirty trickster” and an “agent provocateur”. In the 1980s, he co-founded a lobbying firm, which went on to represent dictators including Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines.
Stone worked as a lobbyist for Trump’s casino business in the 1990s, and on Trump’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2000. According to a Netflix documentary, he was the one who reportedly persuaded Trump to run again, and was also involved with the campaign briefly before the two men fell out.
Since becoming President, Trump has distanced himself from Stone, even though Stone has spoken in his favour repeatedly. Commentators have seen him as the quintessential Trump groupie — a Financial Times article described him thus: “To hang out with Stone is to smell the essence of Trumpism — resentful, brooding, dark and always trying to get one over whoever is in the way.”
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What is the case against Roger stone?
67-year-old Stone was convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness-tampering in November 2019. Stone has always maintained that the case against him is politically motivated. Trump has consistently backed him and denounced the investigation aggressively.
Essentially, Stone has been sentenced for trying to help Trump evade taking responsibility in allegations that his 2016 presidential election campaign conspired with the Russians.
The charges arose from former Special Counsel Robert S Mueller’s Russia probe. Mueller was tasked with the responsibility of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Mueller’s charges against Stone included six counts of false statements and one count of witness-tampering. In Stone’s 24-page indictment, Mueller also mentioned “unauthorised intrusions” in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s computer systems, which became public in the middle of 2016.
Last week, prosecutors in the case recommended a prison sentence of seven to nine years for Stone, which the Justice Department declared as excessive.
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A memo filed by the US Attorney Timothy J Shea with the US District Court for District of Columbia on February 11, 2020 concluded that the defendant had committed “serious offences” and deserved a sentence incarceration that was “sufficient, but not greater than necessary”.
It also said: “Based on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 and 108 months’ imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances.”
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