Trump ally Roger Stone appeals sentence in Russia probe

Michael Balsamo
Associated Press

Washington – Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, is appealing his three-year prison sentence following his conviction as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Stone’s lawyers filed the notice of appeal Thursday in federal court in Washington. They are appealing his prison sentence and a judge’s order denying Stone’s request for a new trial based on Stone’s accusations of jury bias.

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

Roger Stone arrives for his sentencing at federal court in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Stone was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted on charges brought as part of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Stone remains free as he awaits a date to surrender to a federal prison system that has grappled with outbreaks of the coronavirus.

FBI records released this week also revealed the extent of communications between Stone and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as efforts by associates of Trump to glean inside details about Russia-hacked emails that WikiLeaks was going to publish. Those associates expected the email would embarrass Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 race.

After his conviction, Stone claimed the jury forewoman was biased. He petitioned for a new trial and Stone’s lawyers have alleged misconduct after some jurors spoke out publicly following the case. The judge presiding over his case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, held a hearing and called nearly all the jurors back in a highly unusual move.

Jackson said Stone’s lawyers had not proved the forewoman was biased or that any jurors acted inappropriately.

The prosecutors on Stone’s trial team quit the case in February after Justice Department leaders, including Attorney General William Barr, overruled their initial sentencing recommendation for Stone of between seven to nine years and ordered the filing of a new sentencing memorandum. The department backed away from its initial recommendation hours after the president tweeted his displeasure with it.

Barr has said he ordered the new filing hours before the president’s tweet because he was caught off guard by the initial sentencing recommendation and believed it was excessive based on the facts of the case.

The president’s tweets about the case led to a brief flare-up between Barr and Trump.