A major domino standing between President Donald Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller throughout the Russia investigation, political operative and self-professed “dirty trickster” Roger Stone was arguably the American political sphere’s public enemy no. 1 in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
On July 10, Stone topped the charts in political controversy once again as the president officially commuted his 40-month federal prison sentence following months of legal jockeying at the appellate level.
But with the good news still settling in a week later, Stone told The Western Journal on Friday he was simply ready to move on from the lowest point in his life, indignant in the face of a sinking feeling that the uniquely American right to fair and speedy trial was “not for Roger Stone.”
Stone was convicted in November 2019 of seven federal felonies — which included lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation.
The charges came as a result of a years-long investigation by Mueller into alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in order to sway the results of the 2016 presidential election.
Stone was initially fingered in that investigation for having interacted with an internet persona who federal officials alleged was linked to the Russian governmental intelligence community and had played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers to steal and leak private information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Federal prosecutors later pursued charges against Stone for providing false statements regarding the communications. Stone and his legal team have long held that these statements were unrelated to any underlying crime, thus rendering them immaterial.
Other prominent members of Trump’s inner circle convicted as a result of the Mueller investigation include former legal “fixer” Michael Cohen, former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, former campaign chair Paul Manafort, and two of Manafort’s associates, Alex van der Zwaan and Rick Gates.
The federal court’s willingness to grant home confinement and other imprisonment alternatives to several of these figures amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while attempting to ensure Stone served his 40-month sentence on-site with the federal Bureau of Prisons, however, was further evidence the deck was being stacked against him, the political operative told The Western Journal.
Citing pre-existing respiratory conditions, the 67-year-old Stone requested deferral of his imprisonment until September as a result of increased viral transmission concerns, but was granted only a two-week delay by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
According to Stone, it was a “death sentence,” as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveals those with pre-existing conditions are 12 times more likely to die of the coronavirus than those without.
“If I were just an average person, the current policy of [the Department of Justice] and the Bureau of Prisons is to protect average people from COVID, at least on paper,” Stone told The Western Journal.
“I don’t think the appeals court would have turned down my bid for transfer to home confinement, as Michael Avenatti is in home confinement. Michael Cohen was, until he stupidly violated the terms. Rick Gates is in home confinement. Paul Manafort’s even in home confinement.
“This policy is for everybody but Roger Stone,” he said.
“At every step of the way, I have been treated differently than other people.”
A Courtroom Drama
Stone’s interactions with the federal courts throughout his trial were anything but amiable. Numerous controversies involving the operative, the judge and even the jury set a cloud over the case that never seemed to lift.
From early on, Stone said, he was denied a defense on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct in the Mueller investigation, from the Strzok scandal to more recent issues raised by the case of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Motions for retrial on conviction were later dismissed, despite jury forewoman Tomeka Heart eventually being revealed to be a former Democratic congressional candidate and activist with strong anti-Trump leanings, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.
Stone had also previously been ordered in February 2019 to remain silent on the case because of a controversial image he posted to Instagram, according to The Associated Press.
— Ross Palombo (@RossPalomboWPLG) February 21, 2019
The photo featured a close-up shot of Jackson, as well as what some court officials and members of the media believed to be a graphic representing firearm crosshairs.
Stone denied any suggestion he had been attempting to threaten the judge, arguing the graphic had been a trademarked logo for the organization that originally posted the image online.
“It was used as an excuse to gag me,” Stone told The Western Journal.
Trump, 2016 and 2020
Stone alleged Friday this series of events contributed to widespread Justice Department efforts to see the operative flipped against Trump.
“It was, ‘Now, we’ve got you. We’re going to send you to prison forever unless you agree to testify against the president,'” Stone said. “[Then-federal prosecutor Jeannie Rhee] suggested to my lawyers it was time for me to cooperate, and if I were willing to say certain things, they would be willing to offer some recommendation of unspecified leniency — which she hinted might be no time in jail.”
“I refused,” he added.
Left-wing commentators and establishment media sources have fixated on this refusal since Stone’s arrest last January, theorizing that Trump might offer an action similar to the eventual July 10 sentence commutation in exchange for silence from the political operative regarding any truly incriminating details.
Stone vehemently denied such theories Friday, telling The Western Journal this had never been the case and no such details existed.
WATCH: After addressing the media, Roger Stone does a double peace sign, made famous by Richard Nixon. He worked for the Nixon campaign and has a tattoo of the former president on his back. https://t.co/1FVjI1PbYA pic.twitter.com/zWOW8aGOaf
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 25, 2019
The Justice Department failed to turn up evidence of collusion on the part of the Trump campaign throughout the Mueller investigation. With impeachment inquiries stemming from the Ukraine scandal, the Democratic Party was similarly unsuccessful.
Further efforts to remove Trump from office would be largely confined to the 2020 presidential election — a contest swayed dramatically in recent months by an economically devastating pandemic and widespread civil unrest.
Low polling numbers coinciding with these events have in turn resulted in major shakeups at the Trump campaign.
Trump’s team moved on Thursday moved to replace campaign manager Brad Parscale with Bill Stepien and return Parscale to his former position as a senior adviser.
The campaign had previously invited Jeff Dewitt to return to his 2016 role as chief operating officer as well.
These shakeups, Stone said, will be integral to a campaign strategy that will likely lean on the promise of an economic revival that only the current president can deliver.
“Any campaign for any office begins with a one-sentence rationale, why the people should vote for you and not your opponent,” Stone said.
“That occurs to me in this instance to be quite simply,” he added, “Who better to revive our economy? A man who has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt and indisputably that he knows exactly how to do it because he’s already done it once, or a man whose prescription for the economy will take a sick patient and kill it?”
Stone told The Western Journal that he does not expect to officially return to the fray for Trump in 2020, but will be supporting the president’s re-election efforts in a “perfectly legal” and “independent” capacity.
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