Politics

Trump ally Roger Stone appeals criminal conviction and sentence as pardon speculation grows

Key Points
  • Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and friend of President Donald Trump, appealed his criminal conviction and his 40-month prison sentence.
  • The appeal, which was expected, came as speculation grew that Trump would issue a pardon to Stone, who is currently free on bail.
  • Stone was convicted in federal court last fall of crimes related to lying to Congress and witness tampering.
Former advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, on February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Images

Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative and friend of President Donald Trump, appealed his criminal conviction and his 40-month prison sentence on Thursday.

The notice of appeal, which was expected, came as speculation grew that Trump would issue a pardon to Stone, a Florida resident who remains free on bail two weeks after the judge in his case rejected his request for a new trial.

Stone was convicted at trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., last fall of seven felony counts related to lying to Congress and witness tampering. Stone lied to a House committee about his discussions with members of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

The two-page notice of appeal filed in federal district court on Thursday, the deadline for doing so, does not identify the grounds for Stone's challenge to his conviction and punishment.

Full arguments for overturning the verdict and his sentence are expected to be filed eventually with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 

Stone's lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, declined to comment Thursday.

Stone last week added Paul Kamenar, a Washington lawyer who specializes in appeals, to his legal team, according to a court filing.

It is not clear if Stone will have to report to prison while his appeal is pending. He could be allowed to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal. If not, federal prison officials might delay his surrender because of  the coronavirus pandemic.

A U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman declined to comment on the question whether the BOP had set a date for Stone's surrender.The spokesman said that under agency policy "the BOP does not provide information on the date or location that an individual who is not in our custody may enter the BOP's custody."

Trump has been critical of the case against Stone, which was originally lodged by then-special counsel Robert Mueller as part of a sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and into Trump's campaign.

Shortly before the appeal became public Thursday morning Trump posted a Twitter message casting doubt on the fairness of his trial.

"Does anybody really believe that Roger Stone, a man whose house was raided early in the morning by 29 gun toting FBI Agents (with Fake News @CNN closely in toe), was treated fairly," Trump wrote. "How about the jury forewoman with her unannounced hatred & bias."

Stone last week said "I am praying for a pardon" in an interview with New York radio host Frank Morano.

However, Stone said he has neither asked Trump for a pardon nor been promised one.

"Nobody tells Donald Trump what to do, and nobody tells him what not to do," Stone told Morano. "He will make his own judgment in his own time. His public comments have certainly been encouraging."

Stone also said he feared possible death from Covid-19 if he had to go to prison now.

"I'm 67 years old. I had very, very severe asthma as a child. If you look at the profile of those who are most at risk, I think I fit that," he said in the interview.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson earlier this month denied Stone's bid for a new trial. His lawyers had argued that the verdict against him was tainted by juror misconduct.

Jackson rejected the claim jury that forewoman Tomeka Hart lied during jury selection and had exhibited such a bias against Trump on social media that she should have been barred from sitting on the panel during Stone's trial.

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Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone just got sentenced to 40 months in prison

Evidence at that trial showed that Stone lied to a House committee about talks with Trump's presidential campaign about his efforts to get information from the document disclosure group WikiLeaks about emails stolen by Russian agents from John Podesta, head of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and from the Democratic National Committee.

The emails were made public by WikiLeaks in 2016. Disclosures of their contents embarrassed Clinton's campaign and the DNC.

Jurors also found that Stone had threatened his associate Randy Credico, a New York comedian, in an effort to get Credico to support his lies to the committee.