Prosecutors urged a federal appeals court Thursday to reject Republican operative Roger Stone's bid to postpone the start of his 40-month prison sentence, which is currently set to begin next week.
Stone, 67, a longtime ally of President Donald Trump, has asked the appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit to delay his scheduled surrender date until at least Sept. 3.
Stone's lawyers have cited "the COVID-19 pandemic and the medically documented life-threatening health risks that Stone would face if incarcerated at this time."
Federal prosecutors, however, said Thursday that Washington, D.C., federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson was right when she denied Stone's request for a lengthy extension of his surrender date. Instead, Jackson in late June had pushed Stone's prison start date back by two weeks, to next Tuesday from June 30.
Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for D.C., told the appeals court that Jackson's ruling was "a reasonable exercise of that court's discretion based on the totality of the factual and legal circumstances, particularly given [Stone's] failure to satisfy the statutory requirements for his continued release pending appeal."
"Accordingly, the government supports the district court's ruling, and this Court should affirm it," Sherwin said.
Stone's attorney, David Schoen, torched the prosecutors in an email to CNBC.
"The government's response is an absolute disgrace. It is disingenuous and in places downright dishonest," Schoen said. He noted that prosecutors had not opposed Stone's initial request to Jackson for a more than two-month extension of his prison surrender date.
The lawyer also said that the prosecutors are well aware "that there are now at least 10 inmates with COVID-19 at the facility to which Mr. Stone is designated." Schoen noted that Jackson's prior ruling was made "on the government's representation that there were zero positive cases at the facility"
Supporting the order to send Stone to prison next week, without disputing Stone's doctor's contention that doing so poses a "life-threatening" risk, "is outrageous, reckless, and despicable," Schoen said.
Stone has until Friday at noon to submit a formal response to the Justice Department.
Stone was convicted last fall on seven criminal counts including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Since then, he has openly beseeched Trump for a pardon or a commutation of his sentence, and The New York Times reported sources saying that some form of clemency for Stone is "likely."
Trump has bashed Stone's prosecution as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and has hinted on multiple occasions that he is considering clemency for his former campaign advisor.
"Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!" Trump tweeted last month.
Stone's crimes were related to attempts made during the 2016 presidential campaign to get information from WikiLeaks about emails stolen by Russian agents from Democratic officials and the Democratic National Committee. Stone was also convicted of pressuring his former friend, comedian Randy Credico, to back up his lies.