A phone hearing is scheduled this week for convicted felon and seersucker suit enthusiast Roger Stone. POLITICO reports the meeting will happen Tuesday between the Justice Department and Stone’s attorneys just two days before he’s scheduled to be sentenced.
It’s unclear whether the judge will decide to proceed with the sentencing as scheduled, given the latest motion for a new trial and questions about how easily prosecutors will be able to respond to it with those most familiar with the case having formally stepped back from it and, in one instance, quit his job altogether.
Some former Justice Department prosecutors are urging Jackson to inquire into the abrupt withdrawal of the trial team last week and the reversal in the government’s position, but she has not yet signaled any plans to do that.
As recently as Friday, the judge seemed intent on moving toward sentencing, issuing an order requiring the government to respond to the latest new trial motion — which remains under seal — by midnight Tuesday.
The sentencing question is interesting following the resignation of all four prosecutors last week. It’s unlikely any sort of delay would happen given the number of federal prosecutors the Justice Department can tap for Stone’s sentencing. Appeals are obviously coming which means a new team can handle that process whenever it starts or should Stone win a new trial.
All this is going on while a petition effort has been launched in hopes of getting Attorney General Bill Barr’s resignation. Project Democracy crowed about 1100 signatures from former Justice Department employees.
We welcome Attorney General Barr’s belated acknowledgment that the DOJ’s law enforcement decisions must be independent of politics; that it is wrong for the President to interfere in specific enforcement matters, either to punish his opponents or to help his friends; and that the President’s public comments on DOJ matters have gravely damaged the Department’s credibility. But Mr. Barr’s actions in doing the President’s personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. 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. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department’s career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice.
It’s highly doubtful the petition will lead to Barr’s resignation and this petition will probably be used by Democrats to promise on bated breath their DoJ will be more impartial than Trump’s. Not that anyone should believe it. It’s not like other administrations have ever been untruthful to Congress and skirted on charges (ex 1: James Clapper).
It is doubtful Stone will get a new trial and will likely spend several years in prison. His arguments appear rather weak based on analysis by David French and Ken White of Popehat.
Whether the judge goes with the recommended sentence or decides to do something else is up to her and her alone. It’s mostly likely Trump eventually pardons or commutes Stone’s sentence so he avoids major prison time. Still makes 2020 a fun year, doesn’t it?