A federal judge on Thursday sentenced US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Roger Stone to three years and four months in prison for lying to Congress and witness tampering, The Hill reported.
The judge also criticized Trump for trying to influence the outcome of the case, according to the report.
Thursday's sentencing hearing follows a tumultuous stretch that saw Trump attack the original prosecutors, the judge and the jury in the case on behalf of his longtime adviser. It follows the withdrawal of the original prosecution team from the case after the Justice Department amended their recommendation that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, delivered an implicit rebuke to Trump over his comments about the case and admonished the administration for its reversal over the past week.
"This case also exemplifies why it is that this system, for good reason, demands that the responsibility [for sentencing] falls on someone neutral," Jackson said, according to The Hill.
"Someone whose job may involve issuing opinions in favor of and against the same administration in the same week. Not someone who has a longstanding friendship with the defendant. Not someone whose political career was aided by the defendant. And surely not someone whose personal involvement underlined the case," she added.
"The court cannot be influenced by those comments," she went on. "They were entirely inappropriate. But I will not hold them against the defendant, either."
Stone largely didn't react to the sentence has he stood before the courtroom. He will also have to pay a $20,000 fine.
Stone later donned a black hat and entered a waiting car without answering questions from reporters as groups of opposing demonstrators outside the courthouse called for his pardon or for him to be locked up.
Stone's legal saga is still not completely over. His lawyers asked Jackson for a new trial in a sealed motion submitted last week. Jackson said that Stone's sentence will be delayed from going into effect until after the motion is settled.
The president weighed in Thursday during remarks at a prisoner graduation event in Las Vegas, saying Stone’s case “has not been a fair trial” but that he’s not prepared to issue a pardon yet.
“I’m following this very closely, and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion,” Trump was quoted as having said.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out,” he added. “I think that’s the best thing to do. Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated, and I’d love to see it happen, because I personally believe he was treated very unfairly.”
Stone was convicted this past November of lying to Congress and witness tampering related to his efforts to feed the Trump campaign inside information about WikiLeaks in 2016.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who probed the Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, alleged that Stone had tried to conceal from Congress his contacts with the Trump campaign and people he believed were feeding him inside information about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
Prosecutors alleged during the trial that Stone lied in 2017 to the House Intelligence Committee, which was investigating Russian interference in the election, in an effort to protect the president, who was still in the early months of his administration.