‘Just asking?’ Trump calls into question controversial history of judge overseeing Roger Stone case

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President Donald Trump took to Twitter late Tuesday to slam four prosecutors who recommended a “ridiculous” 9-year prison term for longtime confidante Roger Stone, but he also directed his ire at the federal judge overseeing the case.

Responding to a tweet from NBC legal contributor Katie Phang noting that US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also presided over the case against ex-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, the president had a few questions.

“Is this the Judge that put Paul Manafort in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, something that not even mobster Al Capone had to endure? How did she treat Crooked Hillary Clinton? Just asking!” Trump tweeted.

The four prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., withdrew from Stone’s case on Tuesday in response to Justice Department brass intervening to offer a reduced prison sentence recommendation.

Trump called the initial recommendation a “miscarriage of justice.”

He noted that Stone’s case was all part of the “Mueller Scam,” saying that the Russian collusion investigation should never have happened.

Stone was found guilty in November on seven counts, including five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and of obstruction of a proceeding.

The media reacted to the news by setting its sights on Attorney General Bill Barr, as seen when NBC News reported that Barr is personally intervening in cases involving Trump allies — in addition to intervening in Stone’s case, former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s case was also mentioned.

But that wasn’t the first time senior political appointees had reached into a case involving a former Trump aide, officials told NBC News. Senior officials at the Justice Department also intervened last month to help change the government’s sentencing recommendation for Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. While the prosecutors had once recommended up to six months in jail, their latest filing now says they believe probation would be appropriate.

 

The odd thing being that the media suggests that Barr is “intervening” in matters he bears ultimate responsibility for.

NBC News also reported that Trump rescinded the nomination of Jessie Liu for a job as an undersecretary at the Treasury Department — as U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., Liu supervised the case against Stone.

As for Jackson, the judge has presided over more prosecutions stemming from the Russia investigation than anyone else on the federal bench, overseeing a half-dozen cases rooted in the Muller special counsel inquiry, according to Law.com.

“Jackson’s courtroom in downtown Washington, on the second floor of the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, served as the venue for Mueller-related prosecutions of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman; the case against Roger Stone, the Trump ally and political consultant; and the trial of Gregory Craig, a former Obama White House counsel. Manafort was convicted, Stone’s awaiting sentencing and Craig was acquitted,” the National Law Journal website reported.

She sentenced Manafort to more than three and a half years in prison on conspiracy charges, coming on top of a nearly four-year sentence Manafort received as part of a separate case in Virginia.

Regarding President Trump’s reference to solitary confinement, at his sentencing, 70-year-old Manafort said that he’d been held in “solitary confinement for the past nine months.”

Jackson dismissed this as misleading, suggesting he simply had a private room in jail.

“I’m not going to split hairs over whether the word solitary was accurate because he had a room of his own,” she said, noting that prison is “hard on everyone, young and old, rich or poor.”

Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011, Jackson reportedly donated $1,000 to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, and the Harvard law school graduate heard a case involving Hillary Clinton and the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

Here are a few highlights of the controversial cases Jackson has been involved with from Quartz, beginning with the Clinton case:

Judge Jackson dismissed a lawsuit in May of 2017 brought by the parents of Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith, two soldiers killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack. The lawsuit alleged that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server caused the death of their sons, and that Clinton defamed them after disputing their account of a meeting with her. In her decision, Jackson calls the deaths of the plaintiffs’ sons “tragic” and an “unspeakable loss,” but said they did not prove their argument.

In 2013, she sentenced Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to two and a half years in prison for misuse of campaign funds, and his wife Sandy Jackson to one year in prison. Public prosecutors had recommended four years, and Jackson’s decision took into account the couple’s young children.

In 2011, in one of her first cases as a federal judge, Jackson ruled that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had to turn over information that the White House demanded as it probed whether the IRS had unfairly targeted conservative groups with audits.

 

Jackson also rejected arguments by the Catholic Church in 2013 that the requirement to provide cost-free coverage for contraceptive services violates religious freedom.

Tom Tillison

Senior Staff Writer
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The longest-tenured writer at BizPac Review, Tom grew up in Maryland before moving to Central Florida as a young teen. It is in the Sunshine State that he honed both his passion for politics and his writing skills.
Tom Tillison

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