The judge in Roger Stone’s trial isn’t interested in his complaints about fairness.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson shot down last week Stone’s request for a new trial over the alleged bias of a juror, The Hill reported Wednesday. President Donald Trump and his allies have said that Stone, who is facing a stiff, seven-to-nine-year sentence for process crimes originating from Robert Mueller’s investigation, is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt.
Judge denies new trial
Stone was convicted in November for lying to Congress and witness tampering in relation to conversations he had about the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. Many Trump supporters are sympathetic to Stone, who they say was ensnared in a hoax and then railroaded with a severe and unjust sentence.
Stone’s case has been at the center of controversy this week after Democrats accused the president of intervening on Stone’s behalf to get his sentence, which Trump called “very unfair,” reduced. The four prosecutors on the case quit after the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to lighten Stone’s punishment on Tuesday, but both Trump and the DOJ have denied any interference from the president.
A day later, it was revealed that Stone had tried, and failed, to request a new trial after Jackson refused to strike a juror. In a filing unsealed Wednesday, Jackson said that Stone didn’t prove that the juror had any significant bias or that the fairness of the trial had been affected, The Hill reported.
More bias emerges?
But fresh evidence of bias emerged Wednesday when a series of anti-Trump tweets from the jury forewoman surfaced. The tweets, from former Memphis City Schools Board president Tomeka Hart, revealed that she had cheered Mueller’s probe, mocked a pre-dawn, military-style raid on Stone’s home last year, and celebrated on Twitter the day she voted to convict Stone, Fox News reported.
Hart identified herself as the head juror amid the controversy over the DOJ’s intervention, saying she felt compelled to speak up in support of the four prosecutors who quit in protest. Independent journalist Mike Cernovich then uncovered a series of tweets predating Stone’s trial, including ones where Hart suggested that members of “45’s” inner circle who were caught up in Mueller’s probe were guilty; on the day of Stone’s conviction, she tweeted a pair of hearts with fist emojis.
Witch hunt for Stone
In tweets, Trump has slammed Stone’s sentencing as a “miscarriage of justice” resulting from the “Mueller scam” and “rogue prosecutors.” He also thanked Barr for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control,” but the DOJ has said that it made its decision before Trump’s tweet burst began Tuesday.
Democrats have meanwhile wasted no time painting the alleged interference as an “abuse of power” from a president newly emboldened by his acquittal of impeachment charges. Mere days after Trump defeated impeachment, some Democrats were threatening to impeach him a second time as they dredged up old accusations from the Mueller saga that Attorney General Bill Barr, who they called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month, is in cahoots with the president.
“This is an abuse of power — that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest,” Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said at a news conference this week, according to The Hill. “This is not what America is about. It is so wrong.”
Will Trump pardon?
Many Trump supporters and conservative figures, like Tucker Carlson, have advocated for Stone’s pardon. Carlson was among those who pointed to the pre-dawn raid on Stone’s home as an excessive use of force that showed malice from the Mueller team toward the Trump confidante.
Trump, for his part, has not said whether he’ll pardon Stone, although he has suggested that he is considering it as he continues attacking Judge Jackson, the prosecutors, and the jurors on the case.
“I don’t want to say yet,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday, according to NBC News. “People were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people… I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing.”
Stone’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20.