Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone is asking a federal court for a delay of more than two months in the 40-month prison sentence he is to begin serving next week after being convicted last year of seeking to stymie a congressional investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.
In a series of hyperbolic Instagram postings over the past few days, Stone has starkly warned that he is facing likely or even “certain” death from the coronavirus if he is forced to report to prison on June 30.
“I’m fighting for my life,” Stone warned in one video Tuesday, wearing a face mask emblazoned with the words “Free Roger Stone!.” In the social media messages, Stone says he is 67 years old, suffers from asthma and has a history of respiratory problems.
“Incarceration at a facility with COVID-19 during a pandemic is a deep state death sentence. Roger Stone did nothing wrong. Justice for Roger Stone,” Stone said.
In another video posted last week, Stone railed against what he called “this attempt to kill me.”
“This motion is based on the exceptional circumstances arising from the serious and possibly deadly risk he would face in the close confines of a Bureau of Prisons facility, based on his age and medical conditions.”
The motion Stone’s lawyers submitted Tuesday afternoon is somewhat more reserved in its language. Attorneys Seth Ginsberg and Grant Smith say it could be “life-threatening” for Stone to be exposed to the virus behind bars.
“This motion is based on the exceptional circumstances arising from the serious and possibly deadly risk he would face in the close confines of a Bureau of Prisons facility, based on his age and medical conditions,” the lawyers wrote in their filing with U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
In a video posted on Instagram Friday, Stone said the U.S. Attorney’s Office turned down his request to delay his prison report date, but Stone’s lawyers said in their court filing Tuesday that prosecutors were not opposed to giving him an additional two months to report.
“The defense contacted the United States Attorney’s Office to ascertain its position on this motion, and was informed that, based on the Department of Justice’s and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys’ guidance on the handling of voluntary surrender dates during the pandemic at this point in time, it does not oppose a 60-day extension of Stone’s surrender date,” Ginsberg and Smith wrote.
Jackson seems not to have taken that representation at face value. In a brief order Tuesday night, she directed prosecutors to file something “in writing” by Thursday explaining the reasons for their stance. She has not indicated whether she plans to hold a hearing on the motion.
Stone’s lawyers say he was told to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Ga., by next Tuesday. They’re asking Jackson to give him until Sept. 3 to do so.The Bureau of Prisons’ web page tracking coronavirus outbreaks in the federal prison system does not report any past or present cases among prisoners or staff at Jesup. However, Stone’s attorneys note that the data show the prison currently has 25 prisoner tests outstanding.
Jackson also ordered prosecutors to provide any results of those tests that are available by Thursday.
The defense’s public filing is vague about Stone’s health conditions, but his lawyers submitted a doctor’s report to the judge under seal Tuesday.
At Stone’s sentencing in February, Jackson acknowledged he suffered from unspecified health conditions and anxiety, but said those issues didn’t seem to prevent him from keeping up a robust travel schedule.
“Public appearances or private gatherings have not appeared to be compromised by his health,” the judge said then.
Stone’s motion to delay his sentence comes as a prosecutor who quit Stone’s case over what he perceived as political interference in the government’s sentencing recommendation prepares to testify to the House Judiciary Committee.
The prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, says he believes the interference was due to pressure from the Justice Department to do a political favor for Trump. Attorney General William Barr has acknowledged ordering the department to back off the 7-to-9-year prison term it recommended, but he insisted in a statement Tuesday he did not act at Trump’s request and never discussed the sentencing with him or others at the White House.
The video of Stone in one of his social media posts Tuesday cuts to an image of a news story about written testimony Zelinsky submitted in advance of his appearance. “Dirty cop alert,” text superimposed on the story says. “TOTAL B—S—«
Following a week-long trial in November, a jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Stone on seven felony charges relating to efforts to thwart federal probes into alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia. Five of the charges involved false statements to the House Intelligence Committee. Stone was also found guilty of obstruction of Congress and of witness tampering for trying to dissuade an associate from testifying to Congress and speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators.
In one video posted online last week, Stone said he would seek a bond for release pending appeal, which he has not yet done. However, even if Stone strikes out in his efforts to win a delay of his sentence from the courts, he may still never see jail.
“I do feel an obligation to pursue every legal option and exhaust them before going to the president of the United States and appealing for a pardon or a commutation of sentence in the name of both mercy and justice,” Stone said.
Stone notes in the videos that several individuals who are Trump adversaries or who cooperated with Mueller’s probe, including Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen and Rick Gates, have been released from jail due to COVID-19 concerns. He does not mention that the most famous person convicted in the Mueller probe, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, also won release on virus-related grounds last month.
“I was convicted because I refused to lie about President Donald Trump. I stood up for him. I need you to stand up for me,” Stone says in one of the messages, which include repeated pleas for donations to his defense fund.
News – Roger Stone seeks to delay prison, citing virus concerns