The DOJ is changing its sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, according to a Senior DOJ official.
“The Department finds seven to nine years extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate," the source said, adding the DOJ will clarify its position on sentencing later today
— Jake Gibson (@JakeBGibson) February 11, 2020
Federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia want to lock him up for a long time. Donald Trump’s “longtime associate” Roger Stone, 67, ought to get out of prison when he is 76, prosecutors recommended on Monday evening.
Prosecutors did the math and said this is what the guidelines range calls for, given Stone’s conduct:
This enhancement is warranted based on that conduct. See U.S.S.G. § 3C1.C Cmt. 4(F) (“providing materially false information to a magistrate or judge”); see, e.g., United States v. Lassequ, 806 F.3d 618, 625 (1st Cir. 2015) (“Providing false information to a judge in the course of a bail hearing can serve as a basis for the obstruction of justice enhancement.”); United States v. Jones, 911 F. Supp. 54 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (applying §3C1.1 enhancement to a defendant who submitted false information at hearing on modifying defendant’s conditions of release).
Accordingly, Stone’s total offense level is 29 (14 + 8 + 3 + 2 + 2), and his Criminal History Category is I. His Guidelines Range is therefore 87-108 months.
In case you missed it in Nov. 2019 somehow, Stone stood trial and was found guilty of seven criminal counts relating to obstruction, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators. That trial took just a week and a half. Federal prosecutors were clearly prepared to recite Stone’s misdeeds chapter and verse.
Some excerpts follow below.
Five categories of lies
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Stone told the Committee five categories of lies. Those lies were designed to conceal Stone’s communications with Corsi, Credico, and the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks in 2016.
Memories of Watergate
Between November 2017, when the Committee first contacted Credico requesting an interview, and the spring of 2018, Stone repeatedly emailed and texted Credico urging him either to testify falsely before the Committee or not to testify at all. For example, on November 19, 2017, Credico wrote to Stone, “My lawyer wants to see me today.” Stone responded, “Stonewall it. Plead the Fifth. Anything to save the plan. Richard Nixon.” That sentence is a paraphrase of a well-known statement by then-President Richard Nixon to aides John Dean and John Mitchell during the Watergate investigation. The next day, Credico’s attorney informed the Committee that Credico would not participate in a voluntary interview.
“Do a Pentangeli.”
Stone also used a movie reference that he knew Credico would understand to try to persuade Credico to falsely tell the Committee that he did not remember the relevant events. On November 27, 2017, the day the Committee issued a subpoena to Credico, Stone wrote to Credico, “This whole thing will be worthless unless you find a place to do your Frank Cannon 10 July imitation: ‘Sure. Sure. Roger Stone this, Roger Stone that.” Seventeen seconds later, Stone wrote “Frank Pantsgele.” The line Stone quoted to Credico was spoken by a character, Frank Pentangeli, in a scene from the movie The Godfather, Part II. In that scene, Pentangeli arrives at a Senate hearing to testify against Michael Corleone. Pentangeli’s testimony is expected to establish that another witness before the Senate committee, Michael Corleone, has perjured himself. After Corleone arrives with Pentangeli’s brother, Pentangeli lies and claims he doesn’t know anything about Corleone’s criminal activity. When Pentangeli is confronted with his prior statements about Corleone, Pentangeli tells the Committee that he lied to the FBI, testifying that when the FBI asked about Corleone’s criminal activity, Pentangeli said, “Sure, sure, Michael Corleone this, Michael Corleone that.” The import of this message from Stone to Credico was unmistakable. As Credico testified at trial, when Stone told Credico to “do a Pentangeli,” Credico understood Stone to mean that Credico should “throw them off,” rebuff,” and “divert” the Committee, by falsely claiming not to recall any of the conversations Credico had with Stone or the events that had transpired.
An extremely low regard for these proceedings even after being indicted. Remember the “crosshairs”?
Stone’s post-indictment conduct demonstrated the low regard in which he held these proceedings. Shortly after the grand jury returned an indictment charging Stone, this Court entered an order prohibiting Stone from making certain statements near the courthouse but declining to impose any further restrictions on Stone’s public statements about the case. Three days later, on February 18, 2019, Stone posted on Instagram a photograph of the presiding judge in this case with a symbol that appears to be a crosshairs next to her head. Stone included commentary alongside the image, including the term “Obama-appointed Judge,” with the hashtag “#fixisin,” and referencing Hillary Clinton and Benghazi. When the post received immediate and substantial public attention, Stone filed a “Notice of Apology” with the Court, but simultaneously publicly defended the post and again suggested that the Court was biased against him.
The context of the crimes.
The House Intelligence Committee investigation that Stone obstructed was examining allegations that “the Russian government, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, sought to sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.” In particular, the Committee was investigating allegations of Russian involvement in WikiLeaks’ publication of documents related to the 2016 presidential election. The Committee was also investigating whether “WikiLeaks played a key role in Russia’s malign influence campaign and served as a third party intermediary for Russian intelligence during the period leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
It is against this backdrop that Stone’s crimes – his obstruction, lies, and witness tampering – must be judged.
Not even Paul Manafort tried this.
This Court sentenced Paul Manafort to thirteen months incarceration for a single count of conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. See United States v. Manafort, 17-cr-201. However, the tampering Manafort committed was an attempt to induce witnesses “to say falsely that they did not work in the United States as part of the lobbying campaign” Manafort had carried out. Stone’s conduct – lying about his interactions concerning WikiLeaks and the Trump Campaign – concerns a matter substantially more serious. And Manafort pled guilty to that charge and took responsibility for his actions. Moreover, Manafort’s tampering involved no threats to the witnesses and took place over a far more limited period of time.
Stone’s contempt for the rule of law must be punished.
Roger Stone obstructed Congress’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law. For that, he should be punished in accord with the advisory Guidelines.
You can read that retelling in full below.
[Image via MSNBC screengrab]