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I’m at the courthouse for Roger Stone’s sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to start at 10 AM, before Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Should be an interesting one…
A few things I'm watching for:
-How does Judge Jackson respond to all the recent drama at DOJ?
-How does the new prosecution team explain what happened?
-Stone has a new lawyer here today. Was he brought in to take a more confrontational approach?
We are off. Judge Jackson points out she received the government's sentencing memo on February 10 from the initial team, and the supplemental and amended sentencing memo on February 11.

"I note that the initial memorandum has not been withdrawn."
ABJ says she is required to consider the advisory sentencing guidelines in this case as in every case. But can depart from them if there are aggravating or mitigating factors.
“For those of you who are new to this, or who woke up last week and are persuaded that the guidelines are harsh,” ABJ says that many defense attorneys often argue that the guidelines are too harsh.

But, she adds, they don’t usually succeed in persuading the government to agree.
In the discussion of the guidelines, ABJ notes a key point: “If the offense involved causing or threatening to cause physical injury of a person,” you add 8 levels. But she says the applicability of that to this case is disputed. Invites attorneys up to discuss it.
Seth Ginsberg, Stone’s new attorney, argues that Credico says he didn’t find Stone's messages ("Prepare to die," he'd "take that dog away," etc.) threatening

ABJ: “Do you have a case that suggests that the victim’s subjective understanding is the linchpin of that analysis?” (No)
Ginsberg: “I do not have a case that says that the subjective understanding of the victim is controlling. But I also don’t have any other cases where the subjective understanding of the victim is that he knew it wasn’t a threat.”

Argues an 8-level increase is a blunt instrument.
ABJ calls up new Stone prosecutor John Crabb. Asking him about the differing language in the two memos on the 8-level enhancement.

Crabb: “Our position is that this enhancement applies.” Asks the government to apply the 8-level enhancement.
ABJ decides that the 8-level enhancement does indeed apply.
ABJ reads out some of the threatening messages from Stone to Credico (profanity included). Says "hardly" just banter.

Notes that in Credico’s grand jury testimony, he said he was not living at home and wearing a disguise, bc he was worried about what Stone’s friends might do
However, Judge Jackson says that after the guidelines are calculated, she will take Credico’s more recent comments saying he never felt threatened by Stone into consideration.
They are now discussing whether this 3-level enhancement for substantial interference with the administration of justice should apply (seen here in prosecutors' initial sentencing memo).

Crabb, again, backs the initial position that it should. Ginsberg disputing
Judge Jackson rules that this enhancement applies as well.

Says that, because Stone falsely told the House Intel Committee he had no emails or texts re: Assange, committee never pursued them. Committee was also diverted by Stone into focusing on Credico instead.
We are moving on to the next 2-level enhancement requested by the government — for an offense extensive in scope, planning, or cooperation.

But the government made a typographical error here, citing the wrong guideline. And ABJ ended up reviewing the wrong material as a result.
The government did, however, tell Stone's team the part of the guidelines they meant to refer to, so they are prepared to argue it. ABJ complains that someone should have mentioned it to her. Reviewing it now.
ABJ sides with the defense on this one. Notes that the probation office did not apply this guideline. Will not apply this 2-level enhancement.
We're on to the next proposed enhancement, about Stone's pretrial conduct.

ABJ points out the inconsistencies in the two prosecution sentencing memos here. Says the claim in the second memo doesn't seem to make sense.

Crabb, again, backs the initial recommendation.
ABJ discussing the gag order, crosshairs photo, Stone “forgetting that he had a book” on this subject on the way to publishers, etc.

Ginsberg arguing that none of this obstructed the prosecution's case.
ABJ finds that this enhancement does apply. “The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct toward the court”
ABJ: “It’s important to note that he didn’t just fire off a few intemperate emails. He used the tools of social media to achieve the broadest dissemination possible.”

Stone "willfully increased the risk that someone with even poorer judgment than he has" would impede things
So we end up at an offense level of 27. Guidelines range that would apply is 70-87 months, the judge says.

(Note: We are still just calculating the guidelines. ABJ can now depart from them as she wishes for the actual sentence.)
Crabb is up to speak for the government.

ABJ: “I fear that you know less about the case, saw less of the testimony, and saw less of the exhibits than just about any other person in this courtroom” (with the possible exception of Stone’s new attorney who just joined the team)
ABJ quizzing Crabb on the initial sentencing memo.

Did it get up to the US Attorney?

Yes, Crabb said.

ABJ: Did it have to go up to Main Justice?

Crabb: There were consultations with Main Justice.
ABJ: Did they receive the approval?

Crabb: My understanding is "there was a miscommunication between the Attorney General and the United States Attorney," as to the AG's expectations on an appropriate filing

Doesn't have further details.
Crabb: There was nothing in bad faith with the initial prosecution team’s recommendation.

ABJ: It’s not about bad faith. It was fully consistent with current DOJ policy, wasn’t that true?

Crabb: Yes
ABJ: With respect to the second filing — you signed it. Did you write it?

Crabb: I’m not at liberty to discuss the internal deliberations in DOJ.

ABJ: Were you directed to write it by someone else?

Crabb: I can’t answer.
Crabb concludes by saying this was a righteous prosecution and he trusts the court to impose a just sentence.

Now Ginsberg is up for Stone’s team. Urges ABJ not to focus on “all the many things that are going on outside this courtroom.”
Ginsberg: “Mr. Stone has many admirable qualities,” loves animals, involved in various charitable activities, devoted to his family.

Says Stone's family has suffered quite a lot, including in what he calls the "horrific" circumstances of Stone's arrest.
"In many ways, the process has already been the punishment" for Stone, Ginsberg claims.

(Can't imagine this will go over well.)
ABJ offers Stone the opportunity to speak if he wishes, but notes that she understands he’ll probably file an appeal, so would respect his choice not to speak.

Stone says he won't speak.

And we’re at a break.
We're back.

Judge Jackson: "Unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say..."
ABJ: “The best tool I have for structuring my thinking is the statute.” Will start by walking through all of its aspects, as she does in every case.
ABJ: The case arose because “Roger Stone injected himself, characteristically, in one of the most significant issues of the day.”

Walking through the timeline of WikiLeaks and Stone’s emails with Corsi.
ABJ walks through several Stone’s claims to the House Intel Committee.

“It was all false. And afterwards, he endeavored mightily to make sure” Credico didn’t mess up his story. Says that’s why Stone was indicted, not for his political activities.
ABJ dwelling on Stone's blatantly false testimony that he had *no* texts or emails with his intermediary re: Assange.

"This is not mere equivocation. This is not the product of confusion. The exhibits alone establish" many texts and emails with Corsi and Credico on this
ABJ: “Stone knew that some would view it as incriminating for both him and the campaign” if he pled the Fifth. “So he lied instead.”

“Whether Stone was ever truly in communication with Assange or not,” he knew it would reflect badly on the campaign if his emails came to light.
“I really did appreciate the sensitivity and the concern that went into Randy Credico’s letter” (arguing against a tough sentence) ABJ says. “It’s nice that Mr. Credico has forgiven Mr. Stone.”

But all of that “reflects more on Mr. Credico than Mr. Stone.”
ABJ points out that Stone's obstruction wasn't directed at "an anti-Trump cabal," but rather at the House Intelligence Committee, which was at the time controlled by Republicans and chaired by Devin Nunes.
The judge moves on to look at the history and characteristics of the defendant.

“Certain themes emerge.” Quotes letters sent by Stone’s friends saying Stone was referred to as a provocateur and dirty trickster. Points out these were letters sent *on his behalf.*
Now reciting the various nice things Stone has done, per his friends. "The letters are compelling and they are sincere and that's all part of the picture before me."

But "I am not passing judgment on Mr. Stone as a man. That falls to a higher authority."
ABJ: ”Nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn’t funny. It wasn’t a prank.”
“The government’s initial memorandum was thorough, well-researched and supported,” in concordance with the record and DOJ policy.

“Any suggestion that the prosecutors in this case did anything untoward” is incorrect.
BUT: ABJ says, she is concerned that 7-9 years is greater than necessary. And would have thought so regardless of the sentencing memo chaos.
ABJ notes that Stone doesn’t seem particularly infirm or in ill health because he has often been traveling to many different places.
ABJ says she now has to weigh “the disparity between the two recommendations I have in front of me,” the inflated nature of the guidelines, and many other factors. Says it's very difficult to balance them all.
Judge Jackson: “He was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
ABJ calls Trump’s comments on the case “entirely inappropriate,” she will not be influenced by them. But she will not hold them against Stone either.

Also says she will not be influenced by pressure from the left from those who want a stiffer sentence.
“The defendant lied about a matter of great national and international significance. This is not campaign hijinks. This is not just Roger being Roger.”

“There was nothing unfair, phony, or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution."
ABJ: “The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t” poses “a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy.”

“The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”
ABJ hands down the sentence: 40 months.
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