As Trump confidant Roger Stone waits to learn when he will have to report to federal prison after being convicted of seven felonies, he is lashing out at Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who oversees his case, and assistant U.S. attorney Aaron Zelinsky, one of the prosecutors who obtained his conviction.
Stone is scheduled to report to prison on June 30, but he filed an emergency motion with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking for a 60-day extension on the basis of coronavirus concerns. Jackson is expected to rule on the motion in the coming days, and while he waits for her decision, Stone is taking to social media to lash out at his perceived foes. (Stone was under a gag order for a substantial portion of his criminal proceedings after he shared an image on social media that depicted crosshairs next to Jackson and engaged in other activities to undermine his prosecution, but it was lifted in April.)
In particular, Stone has targeted Zelinsky, who was part of the trial team that won a conviction but withdrew from the case after leadership in the Department of Justice interfered with sentencing guidelines he and other prosecutors developed for Stone’s case. Zelinsky, who is currently an assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on June 24 that other people at DOJ told him that Stone was receiving preferential treatment in sentencing because of his longtime friendship with President Donald Trump.
In a June 24 Instagram post, Stone said he was going to share “the inside word [on] lying dipshit and Clinton thug AARON ZELINSKY and his coming indictment for misconduct in the Papadopoulos case.” It is unclear who Stone would have heard information from that Zelinsky will be indicted for a crime.
On June 20, Stone posted a caricature of Zelinsky on Instagram, where he called the prosecutor “Mueller’s dirtiest cop,” a “bully and thug.” In the post, Stone accused Zelinsky of several crimes and predicted his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee would be “a blood bath.”
During a June 24 appearance on conspiracy theory radio show Coast to Coast AM -- which Stone had promoted in his Instagram post where he said Zelinsky will be indicted -- Stone complained about his conviction and criticized Jackson. Stone said, “I am facing a deep state death sentence by being forced to report to a prison where the coronavirus is a very real danger” and complained that Jackson “has been extraordinarily hostile to me.” Stone claimed Jackson “attacked me during my sentencing, accusing me of committing crimes I did not commit, said that I was convicted of covering up for Donald Trump -- that was not one of the charges.” (In reality, the prosecutors argued that Stone’s lies to Congress were intended to provide cover for Trump, and a jury of Stone’s peers agreed.) Stone went on to call Jackson’s sentence “a purposeful death sentence” and claimed it was motivated by political commentary he has made over the years and his friendship with Trump.
Stone expressed doubt Jackson will rule in his favor and then said “there is only one person who can grant me relief” and asked for Trump to grant a commutation of his sentence “on humanitarian grounds.” When asked by the host whether this would happen before or after the 2020 election, Stone said, “Well, I think he has to -- I cannot survive five months exposed to coronavirus.” During his appearance, Stone also complained he wasn’t being ordered to home confinement like “anti-Trump rats” Michael Cohen and Rick Gates, referring to others in Trump’s orbit who have been convicted of crimes.
In pleading for leniency, Stone’s public comments about coronavirus and the prison where he will be ordered to report differ from what his lawyers are saying in court.
In his emergency motion seeking a delay, Stone’s lawyers acknowledged there were no reported coronavirus cases at the facility, instead raising the prospect that reporting of cases is not reliable in federal prisons. But Stone has posted on Instagram that the prison “is a known site for a cluster of coronavirus” cases and repeatedly said that the prison is “infested” with the disease.