- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2020

Roger Stone is enjoying the political firestorm that his sentencing recommendation ignited and is buoyed by the hope it will bolster his bid for a retrial, The Washington Times has learned.

Stone was “amused” by the ruckus that began after Attorney General William P. Barr lowered the prosecutor’s harsh prison sentence recommendation for him, said a source close to the longtime ally of President Trump.

The revised sentencing recommendation, which came after Mr. Trump criticized the original proposed seven-to-nine year sentence, led to accusations of political interference.

The source said Stone is hoping the flashy headlines bring fresh scrutiny to allegations of political bias his supporters raised during his November criminal trial.

A Washington jury convicted Stone on seven charges including making false statements to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

On Friday, Stone requested a new trial. The motion remains under seal but was filed after revelations surfaced about the possible political bias of one of the jurors in his case.

A review of jury foreperson Tomeka Hart’s social media posts reportedly uncovered tweets mocking Stone’s arrest before she was seated on the jury. She also frequently criticizes Mr. Trump on social media, calling the president and his supporters racist.

Mr. Trump said Ms. Hart “had significant bias.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case, ordered defense attorneys and prosecutors to participate in a telephone hearing Tuesday. She did not say what would be discussed.

Randy Coggins, a Florida preacher who has been serving as Stone’s spiritual adviser, talked extensively with him last week during the uproar over the sentencing recommendation.

Mr. Coggins said the press attention made Stone more upbeat and “more hopeful,” but he stressed that he is not authorized to speak for him.

“My wife and I had the opportunity to meet and pray with Roger and his wife earlier this week in Fort Lauderdale and I can tell you he is in excellent spirits and has put his trust in the Lord,” he said. “As he always tells me, ‘I am in the hands of God and my faith is in him.’”

Mr. Coggins, who recently attended a Franklin Graham event with Stone, intends to testify as a character witness during Thursday’s sentencing hearing.

He said he was enjoying lunch with Stone when the news broke about that the four prosecutors quit the case after Mr. Barr rejected their sentencing recommendation.

“We were just sitting at lunch when everything was unfolding,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of words or talking about it. But you could tell he was in good spirits.”

Former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo, one Stone’s staunchest supporters, said the events of the past week have left him more confident that Stone will be pardoned by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Caputo has not spoken to Stone because of a gag order issued by Judge Jackson. He has established a committee to push for Stone’s pardon.

The Pardon Roger J. Stone Committee also is raising money to pay for an appeal and cover Stone’s legal expenses.

“Our pardon committee is feeling more hopeful now than just one week ago, and we have the deep state to thank,” Mr. Caputo said. “Always arrogant, often overstepping, frequently stupid, they’ve exposed themselves for all the world to see and our main goal — a pardon for Roger Stone — seems more possible today.”

Mr. Trump has not commented on a possible pardon.

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