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  • Roger Stone arrives with his wife Nydia for his sentencing hearing at the DC Federal District Court in Washington, DC, USA 20 February 2020.

    Roger Stone arrives with his wife Nydia for his sentencing hearing at the DC Federal District Court in Washington, DC, USA 20 February 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 20 February 2020
Opinion

Trump recently attacked prosecutors, jurors and the federal judge in the Stone trial.

On Thursday morning. Roger Stone, a close friend and advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, will finally be sentenced, despite repeated attacks by the White House chief on those involved in the trial to discredit the process and prevent a harsh verdict.

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Roger Stone, 67, the self-described "dirty trickster," was convicted in November on seven felony counts of obstruction, witness tampering, and false statements while trying to protect Trump in Special Advisor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The sentencing will take place in an agitated context, marked by Trump's attacks on prosecutors, jurors and the federal judge in the Stone trial. For the President, his former campaign adviser is the victim of law enforcement vengeance: "The real crimes were on the other side," he said.

Last week the White House leader stepped up those attacks after prosecutors recommended that Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison. His request, Trump said, was "horrible and very unfair" and is nothing more than a "miscarriage of justice."

Shortly after Trump's statements, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the U.S. Secretary of Justice, rescinded the prosecutors' sentencing recommendation and requested a prison sentence well below seven to nine years. 

In a television interview last Thursday, Barr admitted that he had decided to recommend a more lenient punishment for Stone based on the merits of the case.

This sudden request, which Trump called "fairer," sparked a controversy in Washington that seems to have no clear resolution. It led the U.S. justice system into a crisis of credibility, by questioning whether decisions are made based on fact and law, or whether they are based on a political whim.

Following Barr's request, the first four prosecutors in Stone's trial decided to withdraw from the case, and one of them even resigned from the department.  

Furthermore, more than 2,000 former Justice Department employees have asked for Barr's resignation, claiming "interference in the fair administration of justice" by both the attorney general and the president.

Barr, during the television interview, asked President Donald Trump to stop commenting publicly on the department's criminal cases, saying he was making his job "impossible."
 

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