Judge Amy Berman Jackson presided over a hearing on Tuesday morning in the Roger Stone case.
Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn attended and live-tweeted the hearing which was held in federal court (by teleconference).
Samuelsohn reported that two senior prosecutors, J.P. Cooney, head of the fraud unit, and John Crabb, the acting chief of the criminal division, will be handling the case for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington D.C. The four prosecutors who had originally handled the case and who abruptly resigned after Attorney General William Barr disagreed with their sentencing recommendation included Jonathan Kravis, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, and Michael Marando. Three of them had been members of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel team.
According to Samuelsohn, early in the hearing, Jackson asked lawyers on both sides “if there was any legal requirement to postpone sentencing while she dealt with his new trial motion. Neither side said there was an actual legal requirement.”
Despite Stone’s motion for a new trial, Jackson announced she would proceed with sentencing in the case which is scheduled for Thursday. She added that she would “defer execution of its terms pending the outstanding questions about a new trial.”
Jackson said, “I think that delaying the sentence would not be a prudent thing to do under all the circumstances unless I’m required to do so.”
Stone was found guilty in November of lying to Congress and witness tampering.
The foreperson on the jury, Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners and a Democrat who once ran for Congress from Tennessee, held political bias against President Trump which Stone’s lawyers argue has transferred over to Stone. Anti-Trump posts appear on her Facebook account, sentiments she hadn’t disclosed during jury selection.
According to FEC records, during the Stone trial, she made political donations to the presidential campaigns of Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Julian Castro (D-TX).
Following the uproar over the sentencing recommendation of the four original prosecutors, which differed from what they had previously agreed to with AG Barr, Hart “identified herself as the forewoman of the jury in a Facebook post, saying she “can’t keep quiet any longer” in the wake of the Justice Department’s efforts to seek a more lenient sentence for Stone than the seven to nine years recommended by front-line prosecutors.” She wrote, “It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They [the four prosecutors] acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice.”
In light of Hart’s obvious bias, the Stone team has filed a motion for a new trial. Given that the decision will be made by Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee whom Tucker Carlson describes as transparently and aggressively political, this may be a dream.
In this morning’s hearing, one of Stone’s attorneys, Seth Ginsberg, said “This issue goes to the heart of the case and is such a fundamental issue. It is possible that the entire proceeding might have been different had it been addressed earlier.”
Jackson said only that, “This motion should be handled expeditiously, but I also don’t think it should be handled in a rushed fashion” and indicated there would be “ample time” after sentencing.”
She added, “I was a juror in Roger Stone’s trial. I am proud of how we came to our decision.” (In the brief video below, Carlson describes Jackson’s behavior during the Stone’s trial.)
According to The Washington Post, “Stone’s lawyers have asked for a sentence of probation, citing his age and lack of criminal history.”
On Monday, over 2,000 former Justice Department employees signed a public letter calling on Barr to resign. This was a protest over Barr’s decision to overrule the four prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation. The prosecutors told Barr one thing, then went to court and did another. It is thought by many, including me, that this was a set-up. Knowing that Barr would be furious and would likely intervene, which is precisely what happened, they hoped to damage his credibility. I posted about this here.
Fun Fact: The Washington Times wrote an article on Monday entitled, “Justice may be blind, but department employees have eyes for Democrats — by a 20 to 1 ratio.” The lede says: Trend of backing Democratic candidates over GOP began during Barack Obama era.
In the 2016 election cycle, Justice employees gave $438,077 to Hillary Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign and $23,874 to that of Republican Donald Trump, according to OpenSecrets.org, an arm of the Center for Responsive Politics, which crunched the numbers based on Federal Election Commission reports.