Former Trump Aide Convicted of Interfering in Russia Investigation, Faces Decades in Prison

Roger Stone faces up to 20 years behind bars for witness tampering

As the House Intelligence Committee continues to investigate President Donald Trump‘s dealings with Ukraine, one of the president’s former aides and confidantes, Roger Stone, was convicted Friday for the lies he told the same committee during the Russia investigation.

A jury found Stone guilty in federal court of “obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress, and tampering with a witness,” according to a news release from the District of Columbia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.

For the more minor infractions, Stone faces up to five years in prison, but he could serve up to 20 years for witness tampering — or 50 years, all together, though the punishment will likely be less given that he has no prior record.

He will be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2020, by Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (The same judge banned Stone from social media after he broke a gag order and posted a photo of her with cross-hairs next to her head on Instagram, according to The New York Times.)

Bruce Rogow, Stone’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment regarding the conviction or if Stone will appeal. The Times reported that Stone had tried to send a message asking for a pardon from Trump via Alex Jones, who runs a far-right website.

“So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “Well, what about Crooked Hillary, Comey, Strzok, Page, McCabe, Brennan, Clapper, Shifty Schiff, Ohr & Nellie, Steele & all of the others, including even Mueller himself? Didn’t they lie?….”

Roger Stone Testifies Before House Intelligence Committee, Washington, USA - 26 Sep 2017
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According to the Department of Justice, Stone tried to hinder the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and what the Trump campaign knew about that.

Part of House investigation included Russia’s involvement in the release of damaging Democratic emails via WikiLeaks in 2016.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, separately investigated the Russia-Trump ties for nearly two years but did not find any criminal conspiracy — though he documented multiple links between Russia and Trump as well as the president’s possibly illegal efforts to end the investigation.

Stone was one of several Trump aides charged with crimes as a result of Mueller’s investigation. Others include Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser.

Stone purposefully misidentified radio host Randy Credico as his “intermediary” to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, according to the prosecutor’s office. He also lied about the communications he had with his “intermediary,” if he discussed his Wikileaks connection with the Trump campaign and other misleading falsehoods.

According to the Times, “[Stone] told the House committee in September 2017 that he never described to anyone involved in the Trump campaign his conversations with an intermediary to WikiLeaks.”

But in fact the Times reports that, according to prosecutors, Stone was in contact with the campaign about WikiLeaks “every chance he got.”

Most damning of all, according to the government, Stone tried to pressure Credico to confirm his account. If not that, Stone wanted Credico to say he’d forgotten the related events.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty

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Despite the seriousness of the situation, Stone’s communications with Credico began to take on an almost farcical tone. According to the Times, Stone told Credico to “Do a Frank Pentangeli,” which is a reference to a scene in the movie The Godfather Part II when a witness lies on stand.

Such behavior was in keeping with Stone’s colorful reputation over the years as a self-described chaos agent in conservative politics — wily, even dirty.

Stone also encouraged Credico to invoke the Fifth Amendment, which protects witnesses from self-incrimination. Credico did just that and didn’t have to testify, per the prosecutor’s office.

Toward the end of his trial, prosecutors made it clear that Stone’s actions negatively impacted the results of the Russia investigation.

“[Stone] knew that if the truth came out about what he was doing in 2016, it would look terrible,” said lead prosecutor Jonathan Kravis during the trial, according to the Times. “Roger Stone knew that if this information came out it would look really bad for his longtime associate Donald Trump.”

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