US President Trump’s friend, Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on Thursday for lying to Congress and witness tampering.
Trump has indicated he has no immediate plans to pardon Stone and would let the legal process play out, while adding that “at some point I’ll make a determination.”
The light sentencing by Judge Amy Berman Jackson, contrasted sharply with the 7-10 years earlier recommended by the prosecution team.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing follows a tumultuous stretch that saw President Trump attack the original prosecutors, the judge and the jury in the case on behalf of his onetime adviser.
And it follows the withdrawal of the original prosecution team from the case after the Justice Department amended their recommendation that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison.
Judge Jackson said Stone’s lies to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election posed a threat to American democracy.
In a stern lecture during a 2-1/2-hour sentencing hearing, Jackson delivered an implicit rebuke to Trump, who has attacked her along with the jury and prosecutors in the high-profile case.
“There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution,” Jackson said, citing words that the Republican president has used.
Stone’s lawyer had asked that he get no prison time. The 67-year-old Stone, who has been a friend and adviser to Trump for decades, was convicted on Nov. 15 on all seven counts of 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,” Jackson said.
“The truth still exists. The truth still matters,” Jackson added. “Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our fundamental institutions – to the very foundation of our democracy.”
The judge also said Stone “knew exactly what he was doing” when he posted an image on social media last year with a gun’s cross-hairs placed over her head.
“The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct toward the court,” Jackson said. “This is intolerable to the administration of justice.”
Stone’s lawyers have asked Jackson for a new trial, and his allies have complained that some of the jurors have expressed anti-Trump sentiments on social media. Some Trump’s allies have urged him to pardon Stone.
At a Las Vegas event for rehabilitated prisoners, Trump praised Stone as a “good person” and “smart guy” while repeating his claim that the trial’s jury forewoman was “totally tainted.” Trump said he would not use the presidency’s “great powers” as Stone seeks a new trial, but left open the possibility of a pardon.