President Donald Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday for lying to Congress and witness tampering amid a firestorm of controversy as the Trump administration pushed for a lighter sentence for the fraudulent political operative.
Thursday’s sentencing hearing follows a tumultuous stretch that saw President Trump attack the original prosecutors, the judge and the jury in the case on behalf of his onetime adviser. And it follows the withdrawal of the original prosecution team from the case after the Justice Department amended their recommendation that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison.
During the hearing, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sharply questioned the new attorney for the prosecution, John Crabb Jr. of the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, over the administration’s sentencing reversal.
Crabb demurred when Jackson asked whether he actually wrote the updated sentencing memo that the government submitted under his name last week or if his superiors at the Justice Department had directed him to ask for a sentence “far less” than the original recommendation. He said that he was not authorized to discuss internal department deliberations in open court.
The sentence is sure to increase speculation that Trump will pardon Stone. The president said publicly this week that he hasn’t given it any thought, but a round of high-profile pardons and commutations this week was seen by many as a message intended for Stone and other Trump associates facing prison time.