Donald Trump’s longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone will be sentenced, as planned, on Thursday.
The judge in Stone’s case announced her decision on Tuesday, shrugging off a push by Trump and his attorney general, William Barr, to put off the sentencing.
“I think that delaying this sentence would not be a prudent thing to do under all of the circumstances,” said U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in a conference call with prosecutors and defense lawyers that was heard by reporters and others in the courtroom.
She left open the question of when that sentence would take effect, while she decides if Stone should get a new trial as he has requested.
Egged on by the president, who says he’d like to sue the prosecutors, Stone’s case has become the focus of a swirling and very public dispute inside the normally tight-lipped Justice Department.
“Stone, 67, was convicted last year of lying to Congress about his attempts to get details from Hillary Clinton’s private emails from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Prosecutors said Stone intimidated a friend who could contradict his testimony,” says the Washington Post.
The four original prosecutors recommended that Stone be sent to prison for 7-9 years. They withdrew from the case last week when Barr overruled them.
After the prosecutors withdrew, the U.S. attorney in D.C. filed a new memo saying Stone should receive prison time but deferred to the court over the duration” of the sentence, reports The Hill.
More than 2,000 former Justice employees have signed an open letter calling on Barr to resign, saying his actions damage the Department’s “reputation for integrity and the rule of law.”
Barr’s “suggestion of a more lenient sentence that came after Trump complained about the initial recommendation raised questions about whether the White House was meddling in prosecutions and eroding the independence of the Justice Department,” the Post says.
Trump has repeatedly criticized the case against Stone, including a Twitter post on Tuesday morning.
“Everything having to do with this fraudulent investigation is badly tainted and, in my opinion, should be thrown out,” Trump tweeted.
Stone has twice requested that he receive a new trial. The first was rejected by Judge Jackson; the second remains under seal but may involve Trump’s claim that the jury forewoman in Stone’s trial was biased.