Politics

Trump ally Roger Stone found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering

Key Points
  • Roger Stone, a longtime friend and confidant of President Trump, is convicted of all seven counts for lying to Congress.
  • The charges related to allegations that Stone had lied about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election and to his efforts to get his associate Randy Credico to back up his lies.
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Trump ally Roger Stone found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering

Roger Stone, a longtime friend and confidant of President Donald Trump, was convicted Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering as part of an effort to hide his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election.

Stone, a self-described political trickster, was convicted of all seven criminal counts that he faced at his trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.: five counts of false statements, and one count each of obstruction of proceedings and witness tampering.

The charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller related to allegations that the 67-year-old Republican operative had misled Congress about his contacts with the document disclosure group WikiLeaks during the 2016 election, and to his efforts to get his associate Randy Credico to back up his lies.

WikiLeaks during that election released emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign chief that had been stolen by Russian agents. The emails were seen as potentially damaging to Clinton's campaign against Trump.

Trump blasted the verdict, suggesting it was a "double standard like never before seen in the history of our country."

A 12-member jury began their deliberations Thursday morning on the seventh day of Stone's trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson set Stone's sentencing for Feb. 6. The witness tampering count against Stone is the most serious charge, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. But Stone is likely to receive a sentence far less severe, given federal sentencing guidelines.

NBC News legal analyst Mimi Rocah said, "Stone's sentencing guidelines will likely be 15 to 21 months" in prison.

But Rocah noted that "there are several enhancements the government could argue to apply which would increase the sentencing guidelines, usually by six months."

"If prosecutors successfully argue that Stone threatened physical injury to the person he was trying to intimidate [Credico] hen the sentencing guidelines would go up around 41-51 months," she said. "These are the kinds of things that will be litigated at sentencing."

Jackson released Stone on Friday pending his sentencing. Prosecutors had asked for him to be detained.

Stone was arrested in a predawn raid at his Florida home in January. He was charged under an indictment lodged by a grand jury as part of Mueller's investigation of Russian election meddling in 2016.

Asked about the verdict, the White House referred CNBC to Trump's tweets about Stone. Trump's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham did not answer directly when asked if Trump planned to pardon Stone.

Stone's friend Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide, was reportedly escorted from the courtroom after turning his back on the jury as it exited the room.

In a brief phone call following the verdict, Caputo told CNBC: "Normal Americans don't stand a chance with an Obama judge and a Washington jury. That's all I have to say."

Prosecutors had subpoenaed numerous former Trump aides to testify against Stone.

Most notably, former Trump campaign advisor Rick Gates said on the witness stand that he recalled a July 2016 phone call between Stone and Trump. After that call, Trump announced that "more information" from WikiLeaks was forthcoming, Gates testified.

Former White House advisor Steve Bannon also testified in Stone's trial. Bannon testified that Stone had said he was in contact with WikiLeaks before the release of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. Stone had denied this to Congress and to Mueller's investigators.

Noah Bookbinder, exeuctive director of the public interest group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said in a prepared statement, "Roger Stone has spent his entire career pushing the bounds of ethics and the law in political action from Nixon to Trump. His conviction on all charges today is the appropriate end to that story."

"The foreign attack on our election in 2016 put our democracy at risk, Stone will rightfully pay for the part he played in it and in covering it up," Bookbinder said. "Stone is at least the sixth Trump associate to be convicted during his presidency. Roger Stone spent his career sowing the wind. Today he reaps the whirlwind."

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FBI arrests Trump associate Roger Stone for obstruction, false statements