As the Russia investigation continues, yet another longtime Trump associate is heading to trial. Although the date isn’t set yet, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team and U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu told federal District Judge Amy Berman Jackson this week that when Roger Stone’s trial does roll around, they expect to need five to eight days to present their case against the long controversial, right-wing operative.
That time does not include any new defense from Stone’s team, which could include calling witnesses, presenting new evidence, and the like, although it does include time for them to cross-examine government witnesses. Jackson has a status conference in Stone’s case set for May 14, when she will announce the actual date of his trial.
Stone is facing serious federal charges, including witness tampering, lying to Congress, and obstruction of justice. He was arrested in recent weeks by a well-equipped FBI team at his residence in Florida, before being released on bond. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him, and indicated every intent to fight the allegations, making him the second current or former Trump associate targeted in the Russia investigation to actually go to trial. The first was former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was eventually declared guilty by a jury of multiple financial fraud charges and pleaded guilty to further charges including conspiracy against the United States before what would have been a second trial, in Jackson’s court.
Stone has even combated Jackson herself, having posted an image on Instagram that included a photo of her next to a bullseye target, as if encouraging violence against the judge. In response, Jackson imposed a complete gag order on Stone, formally prohibiting him from saying anything about his case publicly — although that didn’t stop him from responding to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s public testimony before Congress this week. Cohen claimed Stone notified then-candidate Donald Trump of incoming dumps from Wikileaks of emails that would be damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign, a prospect Cohen says the eventual president was interested in, which Stone disputes.
Jackson has also had to deal with antics from Manafort. She’s the one who put him in jail before he even went to trial because of efforts to tamper with witness testimony for which he was indicted alongside his longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik, who U.S. authorities claim has ties to Russian intelligence — and with whom Manafort reportedly shared internal polling data from the Trump campaign.
Manafort is facing a sentencing hearing in his case including political conspiracy allegations within the next couple of weeks.
Although his case may soon enter the rearview mirror, all is far from fine and dandy for the president. House Democrats have insisted that not only will they examine further lines of inquiry in the Russia scandal even if Mueller draws his probe to a close, but that they will also look at new lines of inquiry, like whether the president is guilty of financial fraud and whether he’s corruptly tied to other foreign interests besides Russia.
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