Update On The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco

Last night, I wrote in response to the news that all four of Roger Stone’s prosecutors had resigned after the Justice Department had submitted a memo opposing their recommendation to the judge in the case regarding Stone’s sentence…

I can’t figure this out until…

  • I know whether Stone was targeted as a Trump ally, and how much of this, if any, was politically motivated.
  • What the sentencing guidelines are, and exactly what Stone did.
  • What the reasoning of the Justice Department was in opposing its own prosecutors’ judgment.
  • To what degree the President influenced the decision.

 

Finally, thanks to the always reliable and astute Andrew McCarthy, I do understand, and can confidently say, “What a mess!”

I do not trust myself to summarize McCarthy’s careful and clear unraveling of this episode, so you should read the whole article. I’ll simply leave you with his conclusion:

I would not suggest that… the DOJ distinguished themselves in the Stone sentencing debacle. But at this point, the main fault lies with the president.

 Yes, the Mueller probe was specious. But for his connection to Trump, Stone would never have been pursued in a collusion fever dream that Mueller’s prosecutors knew was bogus when they charged him. Yet his crimes, while exaggerated, were real. He was convicted by a jury and, under federal law, that presumptively warrants incarceration, though he could be spared by the judge (whom the president has picked a strange time to antagonize). If the president thinks that Stone and Flynn (among others) have been given a raw deal, the Constitution empowers him to pardon them, or at least commute their sentences.

If President Trump is afraid, in an election year, to take the political hit that a pardon for Stone would entail, that is understandable. But then he should bite his tongue and click out of Twitter. The Justice Department’s job is to process cases, including Mueller cases, pursuant to law. If the president wants to make those cases disappear, he has to do it himself and be accountable. His provocative running commentary only ensures that the DOJ will be accused of kowtowing to him. It also guarantees that, if the ongoing criminal probe of the Russiagate investigation eventually yields any indictments, they will be assailed as political persecutions rather than good-faith law enforcement.

 

But again, read it all.

20 thoughts on “Update On The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco

  1. Re: links with organised crime. Some background reading.

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2017/08/16/donald-trump-casino-sydney-police/

    In a confidential report dated May 4, 1987, obtained by The Australian, the NSW Police Board warned the state government to reject Mr Trump’s bid.

    The board determined the proposal was “dangerous” and “unacceptable”.

    “Atlantic City would be a dubious model for Sydney and in our judgment, the Trump Mafia connections should exclude the Kern/Trump consortium,” the report read.

    “The board is firmly of the view that on tests of sound repute, probity and integrity, none of the three consortia … can be considered acceptable; indeed each would be dangerous.”

  2. As I have said many times, and will continue to believe, this president exhibits the emotional maturity of a pubescent 12-year old boy.

    No wonder the Democats loathe Trump — they hate all 12-year old boys, especially pubescent ones, and most especially such boys who beat them like a drum at their own game.

  3. Worst case scenario, can’t you wait the 9 months to election, and then commute or pardon Roger Stone? Also, if Roger Stone “lied to Congress”, how many years of incarceration would the prosecutors recommend for John Brennan, or Andrew McCabe, for “lacking candor” with the FBI? It’s just hard to take this stuff seriously when you don’t quite see the equal application of the law…

    • Sorry this is BS. Andrew McCarthy is arguing the political issues not the legal ones. Explain why 9 years is appropriate when violent offenders get shorter sentences. Why are only those in Trump’s orbit being prosecuted for lying to Congress when others who are anti Trump and lie to Congress get lucrative CNN deals?

      If Trump wanted to intervene with the DOJ he has a phone. Instead, he makes his feelings public. This is how you expose disparate treatment. Obama did just that when he weighed in on Trayvon Martin, the incident with the Harvard professor, Michael “hands up dont shoot” Whatshisname.

      McCarthy gave Trump a Sophies Choice, pardon/commute an unjust sentence and suffer the political fallout or protect himself at the expense of another. Judge Amy Burman Jackson who is presiding over this case is responsible for keeping Mannifort in isolation. Why?

      There is no doubt in my mind that the group manipulating justice for political ends is not those associated with the Republican party.. I am thankful I have no children who will be enslaved by the left as it marches forward.

      • Why are only those in Trump’s orbit being prosecuted for lying to Congress when others who are anti Trump and lie to Congress get lucrative CNN deals?

        ?
        What is stopping Trump from prosecuting these individuals?

        • Michael.
          Trump does not make prosecutorial decisions. Career prosecutors do. There isample evidence Brennan and others have lied to Congress under oath but no one seems to care. Prosecutorial discretion that only focuses on one group is not discretion.

      • Explain why 9 years is appropriate when violent offenders get shorter sentences.

        Well, because the facts support the sentence if you look at them in the worst possible light. Prosecutors have the discretion to do that, and that’s essentially what McCarthy is pointing out.

        It’s also hard to defend a guy like Stone, who basically handed hostile prosecutors not just a shovel, but a backhoe to bury him with. There is such a thing as “If you ask for it, don’t complain if you get it.”

        Now, I agree with the Justice Department’s position, and I don’t really care if Trump instructed them personally to take a look at the sentencing recommendation and evaluate it for fairness. Honestly, he has the right and authority to do just that no matter what the Democrats, or Republicans for that matter, think or say.

        The problem is Trump’s behavior. He’s basically acting, in a way, like Roger Stone did — poking the bear with a red-hot poker and daring it to eat him. Trump, however, has made his entire presidency about poking the bear with a red-hot poker, and it works for him. It’s a bad look, though, and in Stone’s case, it’s responsible for much of the mess he’s in. Sympathy for such stupidity is just hard to muster.

        Still, despite my assertion of Trump’s juvenile behavior, I think that on balance it’s a good thing for him to expose this to the light of day. Our justice system is too often used as a political weapon by partisan employees, and we saw no end of this under former president Obama across the entire spectrum of the bureaucracy. I’d rather a president be perceived as interfering in a prosecution than allowing these (as Trump puts it) “swamp creatures” to continue doing this without it ever being revealed to the common man. We may rightly bemoan the way it all looks, but you can’t say it hasn’t been effective in exposing a genuine problem.

        What we’ve seen is that there is so much political abuse inside the justice and intelligence apparatus that wouldn’t have seen the light of day without Trump’s presidency that it’s hard for me to say that his juvenile tweets haven’t been a net benefit in fighting this infection.

        • My question is “Did the DOJ back off the sentencing recommendation because the president tweeted, or did the prosecutors submit different sentencing recommendations than they discussed with their superiors and the DOJ resubmitted the intended sentence?” Yes, the prosecutors resigned, as might be expected any way. Did they resign in protest or were they told to resign or be fired? This seems to be the main point of contention for me and the above does nothing to address it.

          This seems much like the impeachment when nobody wanted to discuss why it was appropriate to impeach someone for not obeying invalid subpoenas. Now that it is OK to charge the president with such crimes, will we be forced to obey just any order from anyone anointed by government authority? What about warrantless searches of our homes?

          Note: No warrant, no uniforms, no police report filed, no acknowledgement that this even happened by the authorities

          • My question is “Did the DOJ back off the sentencing recommendation because the president tweeted, or did the prosecutors submit different sentencing recommendations than they discussed with their superiors and the DOJ resubmitted the intended sentence?”

            To me, the answer to the first part is, “Who cares?” Honestly, I don’t think policy should be made by Twitter tweets, but if Trump’s tweet prompted it, good. The President can, has, and does override DOJ decisions, though usually via back channels and not by announcing his preference to all and sundry. We have seen in many times before in many administrations.

            To the second possibility, I don’t think so. I think the prosecutors had the latitude to recommend sentencing as they saw fit. I don’t think that they required DOJ approval for this kind of case, basically a process crime against a private citizen.

            What I think happened is that when Justice found out about the recommendation, they initiated action. Based on what I’m reading, Trump found out about it at roughly the same time and tweeted, but the two decisions were not interdependent. I really don’t care if they were, and seeing Democrats howl about it just makes me care even less.

        • Glenn, we are pretty much in agreement. However it is the law that supports the sentence not the facts. The facts are that he lied and made a stupid comment about kidnapping a dog. The latter created the case for an enhancement. Nonetheless, the goal was to inflict as much harm on him as possible because of who he is and his defiant behavior toward those that attack him. How people behave when charged with crimes should not have any bearing on the sentence.

          I would have more sympathy for the prosecutors pushing for harsh sentences for the guilty that are defiant to the last if overzealous prosecutors faced sanctions or they had to pay the costs of those cases they lose. Right now the innocent defendent has to choose between acquiescing to the prosecutors or face much longer sentences. There is no downside for the state to squeeze defendants into submission.

          James Wolf got 2 months for lying to the FBI in 2018. That’s it. If government is the bear we should all be poking it when it abuses its ability to prosecute people.

          • However it is the law that supports the sentence not the facts.

            Well, no, that’s not true in my opinion. A very negative reading of the facts allows a conclusion that he threatened a witness, and that reading is within the discretion of the attorneys prosecuting the case.

            I agree with you that a more reasonable conclusion is that it’s not a true threat, but we can’t inflict that reading on the attorneys. They have a right to their own conclusion.

            What everyone else received for greater or similar crimes is irrelevant. Each case is individual, as is the interpretations of the facts by the prosecutors assigned. So while I agree with the DOJ stepping in, I would also defend the right of the prosecutors to make their own call, even if I disagree with them.

            • Glenn, again I think we are in basic agreement but it is the law that allows the harsh enhancement. The prosecutors choose how they read the facts. Nothing in the law prevents them from acting with malice against a defendant with respect to how they want to interpret the facts. You mentioned in the earlier post that the prosecutors were “hostile to this defendant.

              Hostility suggests prosecutorial bias such that they would be inclined to “read” the facts one way for submissive defendants but read the facts completely differently for one who is aggressively defiant.

              I know – the hard way- that every case is unique and that the punishment one gets or lack of punishment is irrelevant to any other case would that irrelevancy still hold if women or some other “protected” class were given harsher sentences for the exact same crime than the non-minority defendant?

              I can see where a prosecutor may suggest a lesser sentence for a defendant who knows he is guilty, and pleads to it early. This is a gift to the defendant for being upfront and contrite. That is far different than a prosecutor who is in the fight of his life for a conviction, finally gets it because a juror lied during Voir Dire (ok I added that for color) and then decides to make the defendant pay dearly for aggressively defending him or herself. Yes, I know the recommendations are not binding on the judge who may decide it is too harsh or too lenient. But, judges rely on pre-sentencing reports. I would think judges put a great deal of weight on what prosecutors recommend.

              I suppose my point is what difference does it make if a prosecutor wants to screw you over because they don’t like a defendant being “uppity” ( I used that word on purpose because that is the term whites used when blacks complained of unequal treatment) if you are a member of what is termed a protected class or not.

              The question in my mind how do we ensure equal protection under the law if prosecutors who may harbor ill will toward a defendant for whatever reason do not have to answer the simple question why they argued for a long sentence for one defendant and not another. My enquiring mind simply wants to know.

              • It just dawned on me. If every case is to be treated without consideration of what others who may have committed similar or worse crimes receive in the form of a sentence why are federal and other state prosecutors concerned about the disposition of Jussie Smollett case? If the Illinois prosecutor chooses not to prosecute him who are we to question her judgement – it’s prosecutorial discretion right? Is that what we think of in terms of equal justice for all?

                So, when Trump makes a tweet about what he thinks is an unreasonable sentence must be logically irrelevant to the Stone case because the Justice Department can only suggest to a judge what they think. Whether the prosecutors suggest the maximum sentence or no sentence at all they don’t make the final judgement, the judge does. So why the outrage about Trump and the DOJ; unless someone knows that the criminal justice system can be manipulated and don’t like how they believe it is being manipulated for Roger Stone by their adversary by the Trump/Barr syndicate.

                You can’t have it both ways. If all other cases are irrelevant all sentencing is therefore arbitrary.

  4. You left out the part about Reverend Niles who was against casinos because they attract prostitution and organized crime.

    The NSW police did not provide any evidence that Trump was involved with the Mafia they talked about the Atlantic City model, not specifically Trump properties.

    You also left out the part that the Canadien Imperial bank made an assessment that the revenies were overstated and the returns for their equity partners would not occur which is why they rejected the proposal.

    There is more evidence in this article that financial considerations from investors and religious dogma played a bigger role in this decision than evidence provided by the NSW police that associated Trump with Mafia activities in Atlantic City.

    The headline might attract attention but it does not focus on the main issues. Interesting the date is in March 2017 right around the time an Aussie diplomat was made known that he taped Papadopolis abd claimed he knew the Russians had HRCs emails. Sounds to me like some down under were anti-Trump and working to diminish him. So much for allies.

  5. Nice work, Chris and Glenn. Anybody who thinks Donald Trump is an arrogant asshole and federal prosecutors never are has obviously never had to deal with a federal prosecutor.

    Last I saw, these four DOJ employees didn’t give up their jobs and livelihoods, they simply went back to their respective long term assignments.

    • Thanks, OB.

      Anybody who thinks Donald Trump is an arrogant asshole and federal prosecutors never are has obviously never had to deal with a federal prosecutor.

      Truth, forsooth, and I can offer first-hand validation.

      • OB and Glenn, I am not sure that I would classify Trump as arrogant as I have not had an opportunity to see him react to advisors. Obstinant may be closer.

        I do believe he is no diplomat nor does he understand his own vulnerabilities. Most billionaires think they are bulletproof. I think you will find that big monied people that seek the limelight are very similar. I would say Messers Cuban, Bloomberg, Trump et al are brash with substantial bravado. I bet none of the above take advice well. Why should they? They are self-made billionaires which to them indicates their decisions prove they make better assessments of situations. Kinda like. ” If you are so smart, why ain’t you rich”.
        Watch Shark Tank and you will see it on full display. Competition between them is to see who is on top. Being humble is not a character trait for most. Humility is inversely proportionate to one’s wealth in many cases.

        No matter how much bravado or arrogance one exhibits but who speaks forthrightly to me no matter how much it ticks me off, I think I prefer that over someone who says only what they think I want to hear in order to accumlate power. The former I can ignore the latter scare me.

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