President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at the trial of ally Roger Stone but said he will not act soon on any possible pardon.
The president spoke at a graduation ceremony for the Hope for Prisoners program in Las Vegas. During his speech, he took time to address the fact that despite Trump’s objections, Stone was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison.
“Now, you see a lot of press back there,” the president said. “So before we go any further, I want to address today’s sentencing of a man, Roger Stone. Roger Stone. He’s become a big part of the news over the last little while. And I’m following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion.
“I’ve known — and you people understand it probably better than anybody in the room — I’ve known Roger Stone and his wife, who’s really a terrific woman, for a long time. And Roger is definitely a character. Everybody sort of knows Roger. Everybody knows him. And most people like him. Some people probably don’t, but I do and I always have. He’s a smart guy. He’s a little different. But those are sometimes the most interesting. But he’s a good person.”
Trump said characterizations of Stone as a Trump campaign worker are false.
“Roger was never involved in the Trump campaign for president. He wasn’t involved. I think early on, long before I announced, he may have done a little consulting work or something, but he was not involved when I ran for president. And he’s a person who, again, he knows a lot of people having to do with politics. His whole life is politics. That’s what he is,” he said.
Trump then called out Tomeka Hart, the jury forewoman in the Stone case, who after it had been tried was revealed to have made social media posts against Trump and about Stone before he was convicted.
“And it’s my strong opinion that the forewoman of the jury — the woman who was in charge of the jury — is totally tainted,” the president said. “When you take a look, how can you have a person like this? She was an anti-Trump activist. Can you imagine this?
“Now, you wouldn’t know about a bad jury. Anybody here know about bad? No? These people know more about bad juries than everybody here, including the sheriff and the mayor and everybody. They know about bad juries. We’re not going to say it too much, so let’s not say it in front of more cameras than this. But you’re my experts, OK?
“No, but this is a woman who was an anti-Trump person, totally. Now, I don’t know if this is a fact, but she had a horrible social media account. The things she said on the account were unbelievable. She didn’t reveal that when she was chosen. And she’s, I guess, from what I hear, a very strong woman, a very dominant person, so she can get people to do whatever she wants. And she got on, and then she became the foreperson, forewoman, on the jury. And I assume they asked her a question: ‘Do you have any bias? Do you have any …’ She didn’t say that. So is that a defrauding of the court? You tell me,” Trump said.
Trump said bias infected Stone’s trial.
“But does this undermine our fair system of justice? How can you have a person like this? Did she delete her social account? And when Roger was determined by the same jury to be guilty before the judge issued a sentence — and he was determined to be guilty — and she started going a little wild. She’s very happy. And she started saying things that people said, ‘That’s strange. That’s strange.’ And then they started looking at it, and how can you have a jury pool tainted so badly? It’s not fair. It’s not fair,” Trump said.
Prosecutors had originally recommended a sentence of 87 to 108 months in jail for the 67-year-old Stone, but the Department of Justice reduced that after the president complained it was “ridiculous.” While four prosecutors resigned over the change, Attorney General William Barr said he made the decision independently, with no pressure from the president, because the sentence was “very excessive.”
“I’m here to make a fair system,” the president said Thursday, noting that Stone was prosecuted for making false statements while others were not.
“Other people lied too. Just to mention, [James] Comey lied. [Andrew] McCabe lied. Lisa Page lied. Her lover, Strzok — Peter Strzok — lied. You don’t know who these people are? Just trust me, they all lied,” Trump said, referring to FBI leaders and agents involved in the case of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who tried and failed to prove that Trump was colluding with Russia.
“You had people that forged documents. You had people that wrote fake dossiers and brought them to the FBI, and used people in the Justice Department to get them to the FBI. And these people know — in the front row, you know better than anybody in this room what the hell I’m talking about, probably. So I’m only responding to you. I’m not even talking to the folks all the way back. But they get it better than anybody too. A lot of bad things are happening, and we’re cleaning it out. We’re cleaning the swamp. We’re draining the swamp. I just never knew how deep the swamp was.
“So if this woman was tainted, I hope the judge will find that she was tainted. And if she isn’t tainted, that will be fine too.
“But I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do, because I’d love to see Roger exonerated, and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
The president noted that others have skated without charges for doing much worse than Stone did.
“Now, Hillary Clinton leaked more classified documents than any human being, I believe, in the history of the United States of America. Right?” Trump said. “And she deleted 33,000 emails. And she said, ‘Oh…’ And, by the way, if you did it: five years, maybe more. … And nothing happened to her.”
He stressed that, for now, he will not intervene in the Stone case.
“So I’m going to let this process play out. And we want to have a great and fair court system. And I hope you had a fair and — you know, fair and wonderful court system. But perhaps you didn’t. Perhaps you didn’t. And if you didn’t, we want to straighten it out. But we have to straighten it out also at the top level,” Trump said.
The president concluded, “And we’re just waiting. I’m not doing any — I’m just sitting here, standing here, talking to you. We’re waiting. So I just want to let the fake-news media know that. I just want to let them know, because there’s few people more dishonest than these people, I will tell you that. And you have some very good ones. A hell of a lot more dishonest than most of you in the audience were. But I’m going to let the media know that I’m going to watch the process; I’m going to watch it very closely. And 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. OK?”
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