U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced President Donald Trump’s long-time ally Roger Stone to 40 months in prison on Thursday. She also suspended the imposition of the sentence while she considers the defense motion for a new trial, based on the grounds of alleged juror bias. The seven counts on which Mr. Stone was convicted included 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,” said Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee. “The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t … are a threat to our most fundamental institutions,” the judge added, as she repeatedly expressed “dismay and disgust” over the crimes for which Mr. Stone had been convicted.
The prosecutors originally involved with Mr. Stone’s case had recommended using the tough federal sentencing guidelines as benchmarks for calculating his sentence. They requested a sentence of between seven and nine years, but were overruled by U.S. Attorney General William Barr who thought that such a long sentence would be too harsh under the circumstances of the case. The sentence that Judge Jackson handed down was less than half of the lower end of the range recommended by the original prosecution team, lending support to the reasonableness of Attorney General Barr’s action that anti-Trump partisans had so severely criticized.
Shortly after the sentencing hearing began Thursday, President Trump tweeted: ““They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.” @CNN OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?”
Hours after the sentencing, President Trump said that “I’m following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest, because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion.” He noted that the jury forewoman in Mr. Stone’s criminal trial was “totally tainted” with anti-Trump bias, which could well have affected the overall outcome of the jury’s deliberations. If the defense motion for a new trial is not granted by Judge Jackson, President Trump may decide that he has seen enough and use his authority under the Constitution to grant Mr. Stone a full pardon or a reprieve. No doubt, the Democrats and sanctimonious members of the Deep State, media establishment and academia will howl in protest. But where were their protests when Barack Obama commuted the sentences of Lopez Rivera who helped lead the Armed Forces of National Liberation, a radical Marxist Puerto Rican terrorist group, and Chelsea Manning, who was an Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking American military and diplomatic information through Wikileaks in 2010?
President Trump has been critical all along of the prosecution and trial of Mr. Stone. In multiple tweets he has argued that there has been a double standard of justice displayed by certain prosecutors, who have gone after Trump associates with a vengeance while going easy on the president’s political enemies.
Judge Jackson showed her displeasure with President Trump’s tweets regarding the treatment of Mr. Stone, calling them “inappropriate.” Apparently, Judge Jackson does not understand that all the powers of the executive branch, which include the powers of law enforcement, are ultimately vested in the president of the United States. President Trump is well within his rights and authority to speak out against what he believes have been miscarriages of justice. He has every right to question the acts of runaway prosecutors and FBI officials in the executive branch over which he presides, who do not appear to have exercised their law enforcement discretion in an even-handed manner.
Hillary Clinton was given a pass by then-FBI Director James Comey even though she violated the law, both with her grossly negligent handling of highly classified information on her private server and her subsequent defiance of a Congressional subpoena by unlawfully deleting over 30,000 e-mails from the server. Hillary Clinton also told Congress there was “nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received,” which was patently false. Yet she has not faced the music for her actions.
Comey himself has so far escaped any legal consequences for his leaks to the press and lying to Congress. When he was asked by Senator Charles Grassley whether he had ever authorized someone to leak information to the media, he responded ‘‘no,’’ despite reports from the Office of the Inspector General indicating his response was likely untrue. That “someone,” by the way, was Andrew McCabe, the fired FBI deputy director. McCabe also received a get out of jail free card from the Department of Justice, despite the fact that he lied under oath in violation of a federal statute about his responsibility for the leaks Comey had denied authorizing.
Former CIA Director John Brennan was asked during his congressional testimony by then- Representative Trey Gowdy whether the FBI or CIA had used the infamous Steele Dossier as the basis for any legal proceedings of any kind, to which Brennan replied ‘‘no.’’ Brennan stated further that the dossier ‘‘was not, in any way, used as the basis for the intelligence community assessment’’ of possible election interference. Brennan has not been prosecuted to date for this blatantly false statement, which has been contradicted not only by credible news reports but also by the sworn testimony of other members of the intelligence community.
In short, President Trump’s political enemies have been treated with kid gloves by the Deep State while at least some of his political allies have been persecuted.
One does not have to defend what Roger Stone did to recognize the double standard at work here. The charges against him did not involve egregious crimes such as terrorist acts, murder, kidnapping or drug dealing. The charges involved process crimes, including lying to Congress, which certainly did not make him Public Enemy No. 1. Yet, Mr. Stone was subjected to a pre-dawn FBI raid of his home, filmed by CNN who just happened to be there. Even the mobster kingpin Al Capone was treated better than this.
The double standard was even more dramatically demonstrated by the criminal case brought against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn for allegedly lying to FBI investigators. Mr. Flynn was pressured to plead guilty as he faced financial ruin and possible reprisals against his son if he did not cooperate. Attorney General Barr has assigned an outside prosecutor to scrutinize this case. Outside prosecutors have also been asked to review the handling of other politically sensitive national security cases. Such reviews are long overdue. More corrective action is also needed.
U.S. Attorney John Durham’s criminal probe is reportedly looking into the origins of the Russia collusion investigation, alleged government surveillance abuses in targeting a member of the Trump 2016 campaign and the January 2017 intelligence assessment on Russian election interference. If his probe identifies any wrong-doers, they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – no exceptions.
Lady Justice is blindfolded for a reason. The law should be applied equally, including in politically sensitive cases. Passage of Congressman Matt Gaetz’s proposed “Justice for All Resolution,” requiring equal punishment for those who lie to Congress regardless of politics, fame, or elections, would be a good start.