Roger Stone’s sentencing became big news when, last week, all four Justice Department lawyers who had prosecuted the case quit after their sentencing memorandum was withdrawn the day after Trump tweeted that it was unfair and too harsh. Attorney General Barr said there was no communication with the White House on the decision to intervene, and went so far as to protest (methinks too much?) that the president’s tweeting made it difficult for him to do his job. A new watered-down sentencing recommendation was produced, and signed by Assistant US Attorney John Crabb.
Asked by Judge Amy Berman Jackson whether he actually wrote the second filing, AUSA Crabb demurred saying, “I’m not at liberty to discuss the internal deliberations in DOJ.”
In the end Judge Jackson imposed a sentence of forty months, well below the seven to nine years initially recommended, but not before chastising at length both Stone and the Department of Justice.
After just six days of testimony and closing arguments the fate of Roger Stone is in the hands of the jury this morning. It was an unusual trial from the start, but who would expect anything less when the defendant has a reputation for political dirty tricks going as far back as Watergate. He famously has the image of Richard Nixon tattooed on his back, after all. Nevertheless, in spite of a courtroom full of kooks, the trial progressed in an orderly and efficient manner. I wasn’t there every day, and unfortunately missed most of the witnesses’ testimony. Politico has a good story on the trial here.
Last Friday actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to two weeks in prison, a $300,000. fine, and 250 hours of community service for paying to inflate her daughter’s SAT score.
At the same time Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Advisor, was sitting in a courtroom, where among other matters a tentative date was set for his sentencing, John Bolton, the third person to occupy that position, was given the boot.
Time to come ashore and get back to work, reluctantly. In Boston last week for the latest episode of the Hollywood college admissions scandal, this time featuring Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli. They appeared before US magistrate judge M. Page Kelley for a Rule 44 hearing concerning possible conflicts in their representation by counsel. I expect to be back in Boston next week for the sentencing of Felicity Huffman who pleaded guilty in May, admitting she paid $15,000 to arrange for cheating on her daughter’s SAT test.
Yesterday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on President Trump’s efforts to block a House committee’s subpoena for financial records is likely just the first skirmish in a lengthy battle to be fought in the courts.