Stone sentenced to 40 months for obstructing Trump-Russia probe

Trump leaves open the option of clemency for Stone

Ignoring declarations from President Donald Trump that the prosecution of his friend Roger Stone had been a 'disgrace,' a federal judge in Washington on Thursday sentenced Stone to 3 years and 4 months in prison for obstructing efforts by Congress to probe the Trump-Russia investigation.

"He was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the President," said Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Stone. "He was prosecuted for covering up for the President."

“The truth still exists. The truth still matters,” the judge added.

Stone was convicted in November of obstructing a Congressional investigation, making false statements to Congress, and engaging in witness tampering to stop testimony which would undercut his defense.

Democrats in Congress praised the sentence, and warned President Trump not to pardon Stone.

“He did it to cover up for Trump,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the lead House impeachment prosecutor, and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“It should go without saying, but to pardon Stone when his crimes were committed to protect Trump would be a breathtaking act of corruption,” Schiff tweeted.

“The President should not further taint this process by using his pardon power as a Get Out of Jail Free card,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

As the sentencing hearing got underway, President Trump was out in Las Vegas - but paying attention to the story of the morning from back in Washington.

“I'd love to see Roger exonerated,” the President said at a “Hope for Prisoners” event, as he complained the foreperson on the Stone jury and the prosecution in general.

“This has not been a fair process,” Mr. Trump added.

But the President indicated he would not make any quick decision about clemency for Stone.

“I'm going to watch the process, and watch it very closely, and some point, I'm going to make a determination,” Mr. Trump said.

Republicans quickly made clear they would not oppose such a move for Stone.

“Under our system of justice President Trump has all the legal authority in the world to review this case, in terms of commuting the sentence or pardoning Mr. Stone for the underlying offense,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a key Trump ally.

The sentencing played out days after an extraordinary twist in the case, as the Justice Department withdrew its original sentencing recommendation for Stone, as four prosecutors then resigned from the case.

That recommendation urged a sentence of between seven and nine years in jail. During the court proceedings on Thursday, Judge Jackson indicated she thought that was excessive.

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