Trump ally Roger Stone gets 40 months in prison as case roils DOJ

Roger Stone, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to 40 months in prison after the Justice Department backed off its original sentencing recommendation of at least seven years.

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Stone, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, faced sentencing Thursday on his convictions for witness tampering and lying to Congress.

The action in federal court comes amid Trump’s unrelenting defense of his longtime confidant that has led to a mini-revolt inside the Justice Department and allegations the president has interfered in the case.

Trump took to Twitter to denounce as a “miscarriage of justice” the initial recommendation by Justice Department prosecutors that Stone receive at least seven years in prison. Attorney General William Barr then backed off that recommendation, prompting four prosecutors to quit Stone’s case.

Outside the courthouse, a small crowd gathered for Stone’s arrival. Two people held a large banner featuring a sketch of Stone and #PardonRogerStone emblazoned underneath. Next to it was a large multimedia figure of a rat constructed to look like Trump, with his distinctive red tie and hair. Stone had no comment as he arrived.

Stone was convicted in November on a seven-count indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Any jail sentence seems likely to draw a public rebuke from Trump, who maintains that Stone’s entire case is just an aspect of the ongoing “witch hunt” against him and his allies by bitter Democrats and the “deep state” inside the FBI and the Justice Department.

Given Trump’s recent clemency spree that saw him commute the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as well as nearly a dozen others, there has been speculation that Trump could eventually pardon Stone.

“I haven’t given it any thought … but I think he’s been treated very unfairly,” Trump said this week. Overnight Thursday, Trump retweeted a conservative cable host’s comment that what happened to Stone “should never happen again.”

In Stone’s initial sentencing memorandum filed Feb. 10, prosecutors said Stone deserved a prison term lasting seven to nine years, in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. Such a sentence would send a message to deter others who might consider lying or obstructing a congressional probe or tampering with witnesses, the prosecutors said.

Stone, 67, has denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. He did not take the stand during his trial and his lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defense.

Witnesses testified that Trump’s campaign viewed Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks and tried to use him to get advance word about hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.

During the 2016 campaign, Stone had mentioned in interviews and public appearances that he was in contact with founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans.

For more background, here are previous stories on key developments involving Stone and the case.

Photos: Trump confidant Stone sentenced for lying, witness tampering

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