He just hired mob lawyer: 9 things to know about Roger Stone scandal

He just hired a mob lawyer: 9 things to know about the Roger Stone scandal

  • 02/14/2020 10:27 am ET Caroline Mulligan
5 things to know about the Roger Stone scandal

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Justice Department prosecutors recommended seven to nine years in prison for Trump collaborator Roger Stone on Monday

The next day, Trump tweeted that the sentence length was “Disgraceful!” Hours later, the Justice Department revised its recommendations and indicated that Stone’s imprisonment should be far shorter.

Four prosecutors resigned immediately. The recommendations they made after extensive careers in law had been overturned by a tweet from a reality TV show host.

Then Stone added a former mob lawyer to his team.


1. The mob lawyer joins the defense team

5 things to know about the Roger Stone scandal 6

Source / Canva

Even though he has had some help from the Oval Office on his sentencing, Stone is still beefing up his defense team with the addition of New York attorney Seth Ginsberg.

Ginsberg has an extensive career in criminal defense for alleged organized crime members like John Gotti Jr. and members of the Luchese family.

“Roger has an excellent team of attorneys and I’m very pleased he’s asked me to assist them,” he told ABC News.

The lawyer was once banned from the federal detention center in Manhattan for having marijuana while on his way in to visit a client from the Gambino crime family.

2. The source of Stone’s sentence: 7 Federal felony convictions

Mueller finally agrees to testify before House committees

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Stone’s crimes were uncovered during the Mueller probe, which Trump has long derided as a witch hunt.

ABC News described the charges as

One count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements—including lying to Congress—and one count of witness tampering in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Specific accusations against Stone include that he served as a “conduit” between the Trump campaign and Wikileaks, and that he sent threatening texts to another witness. Stone was found guilty on all seven charges.

3. The 7 to 9 year sentence could have been much worse

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The statutory maximum for all of Stone’s crimes is actually 50 years.

Though Trump called the sentence “ridiculous,” the reality is that Justice Department officials could have been much harsher if they actually wanted to retaliate against Stone.

4. Not the first of Trump’s associates to get off lightly

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Back in March, Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign, received a 47-month prison sentence for charges of financial frauds. Federal guidelines recommend 19 to 24 years for crimes of that nature.

Manafort’s total length of imprisonment reached seven and a half years after he was charged for witness tampering and lobbying. The judge who extended his sentence, Amy Berman Jackson, is the same one now overseeing Stone’s hearing.

Trump falsely suggested that she treated Manafort worse than Al Capone.

5. When asked about Stone, Trump gave a worrying response

Trump’s cutting pay for millions because of 'Serious Economic Conditions.'

Source / Flickr

Trump denied speaking to the Justice Department about Stone’s sentencing but claimed he had the “absolute right” to do that if he wanted to.

As Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson explains, Trump very much is not supposed to interfere with the Justice Department:

The Department of Justice is supposed to defend the rule of law in America. It is not supposed to be swayed by political pressure, and traditionally, communicates with the White House only very generally, and never about specific cases. It is emphatically not the role of the Justice Department to work with the president, but rather its job is to guarantee equality before the law for everyone in America.

Once again, Trump fails to recognize the system of checks and balances that are supposed to keep the US from turning into a dictatorship. It’s not the first time he’s pushed his power beyond its limits, and there’s no doubt that it won’t be his last.

6. Dems respond, but will it lead to action?

Twitter's most rip-roaring responses to Pelosi ripping up Trump’s SOTU speech 1

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Many notable Democrats also took to Twitter to decry the reduced sentence and Trump’s interference. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that another investigation be opened up against the president:

Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor to demand that the Inspector General and the Judiciary Committee investigate Trump’s interference:

And California Senator Kamala Harris demanded public testimony from Attorney General Barr regarding his political “interference:”

It remains to be seen if anything will come from their words, if any Republicans will join their cries to action, or if Trump’s power-grabbing will continue to go unchallenged.

7. Stone was a bit player in the Watergate scandal

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Source / Wikimedia

Roger Stone relishes the fact that he was a bit player in the Watergate scandal.

He dropped out of George Washington University and at just 19-years-old, he was the youngest person to be caught up in the scandal that eventually led to former President Nixon leaving office. It is a fact that he likes to brag about.

“The biggest sin in politics is to be boring,” Stone said in a Miami Herald interview. His involvement in Watergate included getting a spy inside the McGovern campaign, and he was also one of the first people to know that the Nixon committee was involved in the burglary at the DNC headquarters.

Stone’s involvement came to light during the 1073 congressional hearings, and it actually cost him a job on Senator Robert Dole’s staff. Stone was never accused of breaking any laws.

“Admit nothing, deny everything launch counterattack,” is his motto.

8. He has a Nixon tattoo on his back

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Source / Canva

According to Stone, “women love” the tattoo of Nixon he has on his back.

He got the tattoo—Nixon’s face in between his shoulder blades—in Venice Beach, California at a tattoo shop called the Ink Monkey. “I was in California, I was drunk, and it seemed like a good idea.”

The original plan was to add other faces including Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater. Stone has stuck with just Nixon because “it hurt like a son of a bitch.”

9. He was banned from Twitter

Twitter may be allowing oil and gas to keep posting political ads

Screenshot / YouTube

In 2017, Stone was banned from Twitter due to his attacks on members of the media.

His tweets were full of “expletives” the New York Times reports. Included in the tirade that got him kicked off the platform were tweets calling for CNN host Don Lemon to be “humiliated, mocked and punished.” Stone also used #porky to describe columnist Bill Kristol who he said was “packing on the pounds.”

After his account was suspended, Stone threatened to sue Twitter claiming “the battle for free speech has just begun.”

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