US President Donald Trump harshly criticised the denial of a new trial to his former political aide Roger Stone by calling it a “disgraceful situation”. The statement was made as the president re-posted a tweet calling for the pardon of Stone, who was sentenced to 40 months in prison this February.
This is a disgraceful situation! https://t.co/s2qZSrGw6U— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2020
Stone’s legal team previously raised concerns about the political leanings of one of the jury forepersons in the case, Tomeka Hart, citing her critical social media posts. The attorneys also argued that the judge in the case, Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed to her position by then-President Barack Obama back in 2011, has revealed her “bias” against the defendant with her commentary related to jurors in the trial.
However, the February motion by Stone’s lawyers to disqualify Jackson was dismissed, as the judge stated that the plea did not offer any “factual or legal support”.
Now, she has also denied the request for a new trial, arguing that the concerns about the jury foreperson’s alleged bias were “unmoored from facts”, as Hart’s “strong opinions about certain people or issues”, including Donald Trump, “do not reveal that she had an opinion about Roger Stone, which is the opinion that matters”. Jackson stated that her ruling is “final” and “the defendant must surrender for service of his sentence designated by the Bureau of Prisons”.
Roger Stone's Case
In February, Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison after he was found guilty of seven counts, including lying to Congress over communications with WikiLeaks during his 2017 testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and for causing obstruction and witness tampering in relation to Robert Mueller's so-called "Russiagate" probe.
The investigation by the special counsel for the US Department of Justice, Robert Mueller, was purported to study an alleged Russian interference into US 2016 presidential election and suspected cooperation between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Roger Stone repeatedly denied his guilt and has recently stated that with the ongoing health crisis, the prison sentence and an order to surrender in two weeks is commensurate to a “death sentence”.