“At some point I’ll make a determination, but Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process,” Trump said at a commencement event in Las Vegas.
Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday after his conviction on charges of witness tampering and making false statements.
Trump said that he wants to see the process “play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance at exoneration in my opinion.”
Trump called Stone “a smart guy” and “a little different, but those are sometimes the most interesting. But he’s a good person. His family is fantastic.”
He again blasted the forewoman of the jury in Stone’s trial as “totally tainted.” But that juror did disclose her background during the selection process. Trump and his allies point to a recent social media post in which she defended the prosecutors who handled the case.
He also said that while Stone was convicted of witness tampering, “it’s not like the tampering I see when you watch a movie on television.” Stone was accused of threatening Randy Credico, the radio host who was a conduit to Wikileaks.
PREVIOUSLY: Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday, a punishment that quickly led to speculation that President Donald Trump would give a pardon to his former adviser after publicly weighing in on his prosecution as a “miscarriage of justice.”
Stone, a self-described political dirty trickster who was an early mentor to Trump as he charted his entrance into politics, was convicted last year of lying to Congress and witness tampering.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson handed down the sentence after delivering a rebuke to Stone and Trump himself, asserting that it was essential for the judiciary to maintain its independence.
But as she presided over the sentencing hearing, Trump continued to tweet about the case, raising concerns from current and former Justice Department officials that he is interfering in a process that has been independent of White House influence. Last week, Attorney General William Barr told ABC News that the president’s tweets about criminal justice cases made it “impossible for me to do my job,” but Trump has continued to weigh in on proceedings involving some of his supporters and allies.
Stone also was sentenced to four years of probation and 250 hours of community service, as well as a $20,000 fine.
Trump’s public statements about the case only added more attention to Stone’s sentencing, drawing coverage across news networks, which were on standby at the federal courthouse in Washington throughout the morning.
Stone’s conviction was on charges that he lied about the nature of his contacts with Wikileaks as the House Intelligence Committee conducted an investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. He also was accused of threatening Randy Credico, a radio host and the intermediary between Stone and Wikileaks.
Prosecutors last week recommended a sentence of seven to nine years in prison, but Trump then tweeted that the punishment was too harsh. The DOJ then filed a new sentencing memorandum that argued for more leniency.
As media attention focused on whether Barr was doing Trump’s bidding to help out one of the president’s friends, the four prosecutors assigned to the Stone case resigned. Barr later insisted that he had concluded, before Trump’s tweet, that the seven- to nine- year sentence was too harsh.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump pinned a tweet featuring a Fox News segment in which Tucker Carlson argues that the president “could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon.” That has raised speculation that Trump will move to quickly issue a pardon to Stone. Stone’s legal team also is seeking a new trial on the claim that one of the jurors in the case was not impartial. He left the courthouse without speaking.
In delivering her sentence, Jackson criticized Stone for violating a gag order she issued during the case, as he posted comments on social media including an Instagram image of her picture with a rifle scope cross hair.
“This is intolerable to the administration of justice, and the courts should not sit idly by, shrug its shoulders and just say it’s ‘Roger being Roger,” she said, according to CNN.
After telling those in the courtroom that, “unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say,” she went through a summary of the case and the seven criminal counts against Stone. She rejected the notion that his prosecution was politically motived, and gave scathing comments about Stone’s conduct. She chided him for his use of social media during the case, while pushing back against the argument that it was “incorrect” that prosecutors did anything unethical.
She also referenced Trump’s tweets in the case, saying that “the court cannot be influenced by those comments. They were entirely inappropriate.”
Stone was convicted on one count of obstructing official proceedings, five counts of making false statements and one count of witness tampering.