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Trump on Roger Stone sentencing: 'I think he has a very good chance at exoneration'

Posted at 3:33 PM, Feb 20, 2020

Hours after conservative political activist Roger Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he felt that Stone had a "very good chance at exoneration."

Trump said he wanted to "see it play out," but added that he didn't believe that Stone's case had been a "fair process."

Trump also addressed reports that the foreperson on the jury at Stone's trial, Tomeka Hart, had posted anti-Trump sentiments on her social media accounts in the past.

"The foreperson of the jury was totally tainted," Trump said. " can you have a jury pool tainted so badly? It's not fair."

Trump added that he hopes the judge considers Hart's potential bias on appeal.

"If she's not tainted, that's fine too," Trump said.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Hart posted on Facebook last week in support of the four Department of Justice prosecutors that resigned in protest Trump's push for a lighter sentence for Stone.

"I want to stand up for Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis — the prosecutors on the Roger Stone trial," Hart wrote, according to the Commercial Appeal. "It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice."

In the days after her post, other media outlets published Hart's other social media posts, some of which were critical of Trump.

On Wednesday, fellow juror Seth Cousins defended Hart's leadership on CNN, saying that Hart was perhaps the strongest advocate for a rigorous process.

Late last year, Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering relating to the 2016 presidential election. While prosecutors originally called for Stone to be sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison, Trump tweeted that he thought such a sentence would be a "miscarriage of justice." The Justice Department promptly submitted new sentencing recommendations that called for less prison time.

Trump's criticism has caused an uproar in the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr has publicly asked that Trump refrains from influencing Justice Department affairs, and reports emerged Wednesday that he would consider resigning if Trump did not stop tweeting.

Trump has the constitutional power to issue a pardon to Stone or commute his sentence.

"I haven't given it any thought," the president said Tuesday when asked about pardoning Stone, according to Politico. "I think he's been treated very unfairly. ... You're gonna see what happens. You'll see what happens."