Let's Fix This Country

Did Roger Stone Deserve 7-to-9?

Whether or not, we're looking at the breakdown of the American justice system

With the sentencing of former Trump adviser Roger Stone imminent, the president tweeted his displeasure at the sentencing recommendation of seven-to-nine years, Attorney General William Barr immediately reduced the guidelines, Trump congratulated Barr for doing so, four prosecutors quit the case in protest,

one quitting the department altogether, and Barr unleashed a stunning rebuke of the president's "public statements and tweets", saying they "make it impossible for me to do my job".

That leaves out a lot, stated in brief because you probably already know the story. It headlined every television news program and newspaper for days. But our take here is to do what the breathless reporting hasn't done: delve into the question of whether the proposed sentence is fair or unjust. To answer that, we turned to the indictment itself. The takeaway is mostly that the disputants don't seem to know what the charges against Stone say. We'll get to that.

Barr claimed that he was already working to mitigate the sentence, had spoken to one of the prosecutors, when Trump burst forth with his opening salvo:

The proseutors went ahead anyway, ignoring Barr, and issueing a 26-page sentencing memorandum calling for seven-to-nine years in prison for Stone. That caused Barr to step in the next day to call for a reduction and earning Trump's appreciation:

This takes us from seven-to-nine years to "a case that…perhaps should not have even been brought" accompanied by a libel of Robert Mueller who did no such thing. Barr used an interview with ABC News to vent his frustration that…

Public statements and tweets made about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job… with a constant background commentary that undercuts me."

He was under considerable pressure from within the Justice Department, both prosecutorial staff in Washington and in the field. It wasn't just the uproar over the four defectors. Barr may have read a piece in The New York Times from the day before his interview in which reporters had canvassed a sampling of more than a dozen of the 93 U.S. attorneys across the land. All spoke off the record for fear of reprisal but said they had already been wary of working on any case that "might catch Mr. Trump’s attention", and the Stone case made clear what worried them, that Barr would undercut their work to suit the president.

So did Barr suddenly find himself on the road to Damascus when he chose to upbraid Trump? Only if you are of the Susan Collins school that thinks Trump and his cohort learn lessons. The famously vindictive Donald Trump “wasn’t bothered” by Barr’s scolding, according to Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham. That sounded like Barr got pre-clearance from the White House to profess to department personnel that…

"I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody…whether it's Congress, newspaper editorial boards, or the president.

To the president Barr was saying, if we can presume to channel him,

"Stop making it impossible for me to do my job of making everything happen the way you want it. Best to let me do that quietly to escape notice, because, Mr. President, you are drawing attention to what I'm doing and, by the way, there are sentencings and decisions whether to indict yet to come."

But just as the general consensus grew that Barr had been given a hall pass to try to salvage some of his integrity, Main Justice, as the department's DC headquarters is called, announced it is closing its two-year case against former FBI acting-chief Andrew McCabe. Hadn't it just been reported that Barr is personally taking charge of legal matters of personal interest to Trump? Hadn't Jessie Liu, who had presided over the McCabe investigation, been abruptly removed last month from her job as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia? She was slated for a top slot as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department, and even that posting was now rescinded. Moreover, Barr has been assigning cases such as the forthcoming sentencing of Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn — he had lied to the Mueller inquiry about conversations he had with Russians — to what has been called a review board of outside prosecutors, possibly to soften or reverse cases of interest to Trump, undercutting the in-house prosecutors. This is guaranteed to invoke their furor, corrupting Justice with one set of laws for Trump and another set for the rest of us.

Closing the McCabe case cuts in the opposite direction. It is bound to invoke the ire of the president who wants revenge for the FBI having launched the Russia investigation which became the Mueller inquiry. Trump is also infuriated that Barr has not developed charges against McCabe's predecessor, James Comey, whom Trump fired and wants to see in prison for crimes against Trump.

McCabe had been charged for repeatedly lying about authorizing a subordinate to give information to a newspaper reporter about the FBI investigating the Clinton Foundation. For this Trump called him "a sick guy"and "what he was trying to do was terrible, and he was caught!" McCabe denied that he intentionally misled anyone. Fired and disgracefully denied his entire pension moments before he would become eligible, he has sued the department. Or, coming the week before Stone's sentencing, is Barr signaling to Stone's judge Amy Berman Jackson that going tough on Stone compared to dropping charges against McCabe would be unfairly tilting the scale of justice?

Meanwhile, after Barr's purged his aigue, Trump predictably no longer “wasn’t bothered”, tweeting:

How much did Trump interfere? He had been tweeting and speaking non-stop. He had already said about stepping into criminal cases,

"I'd be able to do it if I wanted to. I have the absolute right to do it. I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn't believe but I didn't speak to him. I thought the recommendation was ridiculous. I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous."

He tweeted:

"They treated Roger Stone very badly, they treated everybody very badly, and if you look at the Mueller investigation, it was a scam because it was illegally set up."

Illegally set up? Trump constantly throws his opponents onto the defense, fact-checking and straightening out his lunacy. Mueller was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because Trump had fired Comey. Trump seemed to be referring to the Christopher Steele FISA warrant which had nothing to do with Mueller.

It's a disgrace, and frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of the people whose lives they have ruined… I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing, and I didn't speak to 'em, by the way, just so you understand."

The Cheering Section

So did right-wing media think it horrible? Trump listens to Tucker Carlson. He called off retaliation against Iran for downing our drone on advice from Tucker. What did Carlson have to say:

"Back in November former Trump adviser Roger Stone was convicted of several charges related to the now officially discredited Russia investigation. Prosecutors claimed that Stone lied about communicating with the former stand-up comedian called Randy Credico, a man whose role in the story was so minor that it's already been lost to history. For this offense, prosecutors say, Stone…must spend up to nine years in prison.

This is what Fox viewers take away, thinking it to be truth, most knowing nothing further. This single statement is a short course in the Fox specialty of disinformation.

 First, the Mueller probe is now "discredited"? No mention who decided that "officially". Carlson has seemingly shrunk the investigation to have only been to prove "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russians. In fact, the appointment order was to "investigate the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election" [emphasis added]. The question of "coordination" ("collusion" not being a legal term) was sub-item (b)(i) in a list that ran from (a) to (d). Besides, that Mueller's team found no "coordination" worthy of prosecution does not discredit an investigation even if that had been its purpose. The mission is equally to determine whether there has been wrongdoing or none.

 Second, because Credico's role in history was minor, that erases any crime is what Carlson suggests.

  Third, Carlson wants viewers to believe that Stone's entire indictment was no more than lying "about communicating with the former stand-up comedian". An example of how Fox engineers the story to match Trump who had said the day before,

"[Justice] saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing…Nine years for doing something that nobody can even define what he did".

Stone did nothing. Nobody can even define what he did. That brings us to the indictment which defines what Stone did.

Lying to Congress

The indictment spells out just short of two dozen instances — e-mails, public statements — in which Stone is involved with finding out in the summer of 2016 when there will be drops of e-mails stolen by Russians from the Clinton campaign. (You can read it here )

Stone instructs intermediaries, referred to as "Person 1" and "Person 2", to…

“Get to [the head of Organization 1] [a]t Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [Organization 1] emails . . . they deal with Foundation, allegedly".

The Clinton Foundation, that is, and Organization 1 is, of course, Julian Assange's Wikileaks.

Person 1 states "Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging.”

Person 1 advises, “Time to let more than [the Clinton Campaign chairman] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC. That appears to be the game hackers are now about."

This speaks of Inside knowledge of what the Russians were after.

"Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke — neither he nor she well."

At a public event that August, Stone said more than once that “I actually have communicated with [the head of Organization 1]". In an interview four days later, he was “in communication with [the head of Organization 1]” but was “not at liberty to discuss what I have.” Another interview four days after that, "I have had some back-channel communication with [Organization 1]".

He sent a request that Assange dig up whatever e-mail he could find against Hillary Clinton between "August 10 to August 30—particularly on August 20, 2011" with precautions in other mail saying "now pretend u don’t know me", "Please leave my name out of it", "I can't talk about it".

Shortly after Organization 1’s release of e-mail stolen from the Clinton Campaign chairman, an associate of a high-ranking Trump campaign official sent a text message to Stone that read “well done”.

What's to Lie About?

Collusive, certainly, but apparently not the law's "coordination". There's a good deal more than we've excerpted, but collusive is not the point. Nothing in the indictment charges Stone and intermediaries for seeking possible dirt about Ms Clinton.

In early 2017, the FBI, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee (HPSCI) all announced investigations into Russian election interference and and possible links and coordination between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government. Stone came before those committees and constantly lied. Asked to submit a long list of whatever types of documents he might have, including e-mails, he said he had nothing. He challenged the legitimacy of the hearings for being based on the "yet unproven allegation that the Russian state is responsible for the hacking of the DNC and [the Clinton Campaign chairman] and the transfer of that information to [Organization 1].” Remember the communications with Persons 1 and 2 just cited? Stone testifies the opposite:

Another Q and A:


Stone was asked, “Did you ask [the intermediary] to communicate anything else to [the head of Organization 1]?” Stone falsely responded, “I did not.”

Stone was asked, “Did you ask [the intermediary] to do anything on your own behalf?” Again Stone falsely answered, “I did not.”

The indictment lists five counts of lying to Congress and one count of obstruction of Congress by the lies that threw them off from finding the truth of the Russian Wikileaks hacking.

Witness Tampering

Stone told Randy Credico that he had identified him as Person 2 to HPSCI — and asked him to falsely confirm what Stone had testified. An e-mail exchange between them ensued in which Credico repeatedly told Stone his testimony was false and urged him to correct it before the committees.

In November 2017, Credico received a request to voluntarily testify. Stone told him to "Stonewall it Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan . . . Richard Nixon” and later said to do a "Frank Pentangeli", who in "The Godfather: Part II" claims in testifying before a congressional committee that he does not know information that he does in fact know. At various times Stone texted Person 2, “…and if you turned over anything to the FBI you’re a fool”, "If you testify you’re a fool", "I guarantee you you are the one who gets indicted for perjury if you’re stupid enough to testify", “I’m not talking to the FBI and if your smart you won’t either”.

Credico invoked the 5th Amendment. Stone e-mailed him this:

What was it our president said?, "…nothing…Nine years for doing something that nobody can even define what he did". For Carlson, "This is a pure political hit……The president must pardon Roger Stone or commute his sentence before he goes to jail". As he assuredly will, possibly so swiftly that Stone doesn't spend a day in jail.

Seven-to-nine years is unduly harsh, but a pardon or no sentence says we have no laws. Lie to Congress. Make them figure out the truth. Threaten witnesses. Make people fearful to come forward. No laws, so no consequences. Which is where we're headed

Republicans had a chance to get rid of this outlaw president, but they blew it.

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