Pundits are eagerly celebrating the guilty verdicts in the Roger Stone trial. A jury found him guilty of obstructing a House investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. He was convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering. "The View" co-host Meghan McCain tweeted, "Rot in hell, Roger Stone." Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile said to talk-show comedian Bill Mahr Friday night, "I hope he roasts in hell. That son of a *****!" That statement and more by her raised eyebrows considering she herself interfered in the election, by providing questions to Hillary Clinton in advance of a CNN presidential debate.
But not everyone agreed with the gleefulness. President Trump tweeted, "So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come. Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn't they lie?...." "....A double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country?" Trump may end up pardoning Stone.
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Stone was initially investigated for allegedly colluding with Russia to influence the election. But Robert Mueller's investigation found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. So why is Stone facing time in prison? Why did Mueller get him indicted? Stone could face as many as 50 years of incarceration, a life sentence for someone his age, in his late 60s.
The crux of the prosecution's case was that Stone colluded with Wikileaks and the Russians to obtain Clinton crony John Podesta's emails. What actually happened was Stone exaggerated the significance of some tips he had gotten about getting the emails. He didn't lie about his dealings with Wikileaks because he wasn't in direct contact with the news source. Regardless, it has never been proven that the Russians stole Podesta's emails, so there's no proof of Russian involvement. And ultimately, Stone never was able to produce anything from Wikileaks to give to the Trump campaign. He was a grandstander, and anyone who knows anything about him would know that's his character.
Prosecutors accused Stone of trying to intimidate a witness, comedian and talk-show host Randy Credico. Stone described Credico as his sole contact with Wikileaks. In fiery text messages, Stone demanded that Credico refuse to talk to Congress. After the guilty verdicts came down, Credico said he was in tears. "I hate to see the guy go to jail because of me," Credico told Yahoo News after the verdict. "I feel horrible that this happened. This is not a day to rejoice." Credico testified that he never even had any knowledge of what Wikileaks was about to release.
This reinforced Stone's position that his claim to know what was going on with Wikileaks was mere puffery – nothing that would rise to the level of a crime. Even the Associated Press seems to agree, saying Stone "faces a prison sentence for a collection of crimes that essentially amounts to exaggerating how much he knew, then lying and scrambling to keep those boasts from being exposed."
Stone isn't a likable fellow. The documentary "Get Me Roger Stone" portrays him as a weird, eccentric, obnoxious character. He refers to himself as a "dirty trickster" – although says he's not one that would break the law. During the trial, Stone played a clip of himself testifying before Congress where he quoted the late Gore Vidal: "Never pass up an opportunity to have sex or appear on television." No jurors smiled. But being unlikable isn't a crime.
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Stone will be sentenced Feb. 6. If the sentence is for more than a year, it will be drastically unfair. This isn't a guy who has committed murder or rape. Six months would be more than enough to send a message.
The lesson learned is if you are a high-level Trump supporter, adviser, etc., you can expect the Deep State to come after you. The left is sending a message to Trump supporters to beware of helping him in 2020. Six Trump associates have now been convicted. And it's easier to get a guilty verdict against a Trump associate in heavily Democratic D.C., where only 36% of voters chose Trump in 2016.
A second lesson is if you are going to be an associate of Trump, you need to lie low. The left goes after his more visible supporters. Rudy Giuliani, watch your back. They are already coming for you, and we know their success rate.