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Can Roger Stone rely on a Trump pardon?

The trial itself has already played into Trump’s hands

February 20, 2020

4:55 PM

20 February 2020

4:55 PM

Roger Stone was well-turned out for his sentencing in a Washington courthouse, sporting a blue overcoat with a dark velvet collar and a black Homburg that was first popularized by the British prime minister Anthony Eden. Two rows of supporters showed up in the courtroom to cheer him on. My guess is that he was delighted by the 40-month sentence and $20,000 fine handed down by Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Now Stone gets to emulate his heroes in the Nixon administration such as G. Gordon Liddy, who served time in the hoosegow and were able to demonstrate their loyalty to the boss. Going to jail would be one of the best things ever to happen to Stone. It would be the capstone to his self-mythologization as an adversary of the liberal elite. Stone will enjoy the stir surrounding his impending imprisonment — assuming there isn’t a new trial as Trump complains about a ‘totally tainted’ forewoman of the jury — secure in the conviction, as it were, that Trump will spring him by November.

Judge Jackson said, ‘He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.’ Well, yes. That’s why he would receive a pardon. Speaking at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Headquarters, Trump declared, ‘Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion.’ But Trump made it clear that a pardon isn’t imminent: ‘At some point I’ll make a determination, but Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process.’ Trump’s informal adviser and Fox News host Tucker Carlson has been pushing him to perform precisely such a move, claiming that what is occurring to Stone is ‘completely immoral’. True to form, Trump ignored the cautionary admonitions of Attorney General William P. Barr, tweeting, ‘”They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.” @CNN OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?’

To some extent, the trial itself has already played into Trump’s hands with four members of the prosecution team resigning. Trump seized upon the opportunity to deride them as a bunch of Robert Mueller hacks before mocking the failure of the Justice Department to target Andrew McCabe for prosecution. In pardoning Stone, Trump would receive another chance to demonstrate his disdain for the judicial system, something that he soaked up from his original mentor Roy Cohn whose methods are abundantly chronicled in the recent documentary, Where’s My Roy Cohn? Trump appeared to have discovered him in Barr. But as Trump declares himself the ‘chief law enforcement officer’ of America, he may be straining his ties to Barr who earlier complained, or, if you prefer, whined, that with his incessant color commentary on judicial matters, both large and small, the president was making it ‘impossible’ for him to do his job.

As Barr ponders his future with Trump, he might reflect on Trump’s remarks about Stone. ‘Roger was never involved in the Trump campaign for president. He wasn’t involved. I think early on, long before I announced, he may have done a little consulting work or something, but he was not involved when I ran for president,’ Trump said. As always, Trump, who has known Stone for decades, is keeping the door open to abandoning another one of his old confederates if he happens to feel like it.

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