- The Washington Times
Sunday, November 17, 2019

The sideshow in the gallery was sometimes more gripping than what was happening on the stand at Roger Stone’s perjury trial in federal court.

The flamboyant Stone drew a parade of “alt-right” personalities who filled the family section at the trial to show their support for the embattled GOP operative and self-proclaimed political trickster.

The virtual who’s who of fringe conservatives included provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes; Jack Posobiec, who promoted the thoroughly debunked Pizzagate conspiracy; and Jacob Wohl, known for lodging false sexual harassment accusations against former special counsel Robert Mueller.

On the first day of trial, a member of the public convulsed in an apparent seizure and hit his head on a bench, requiring the courtroom to be emptied. The man, who wore a trench coat and wide-brimmed hat, was taken on a stretcher in an ambulance.

On the last day, former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo was forcibly removed from the courtroom by U.S. marshals after jurors read the guilty verdict. Mr. Caputo refused to stand and then turned his back to the jurors as they exited the courtroom.

Stone was convicted Friday on seven criminal counts, including obstruction, perjury and witness tampering. Prosecutors said he lied to Congress about his efforts to get advance information about WikiLeaks.

He will be sentenced Feb. 6 and faces up to 50 years in prison.

The trial became a magnet for the alt-right. Some of the ultra-conservative notables sat with Stone’s family, while others dined with Stone himself in the courtroom cafeteria.

News outlets buzzed about who was in the courtroom.

But the one who drew the most attention didn’t attend the proceedings. Firebrand talk-show host Alex Jones did not attend, but his outrageous antics bookended the trial.

Mr. Jones, who founded InfoWars, opened the trial by erroneously reporting that a Stone juror was a former Obama-era staffer. He attacked her as a “deep state” plant to “hang” Stone. But he outed the wrong person and identified a different staffer unrelated to the Stone trial. And the Obama-era staffer who was among the pool of jurors who didn’t make it onto the actual jury.

His antics incensed U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over the trial. She called the failed unmasking “uninformed” and “unfortunately false.”

“It puts the safety of all people on both sides, including possibly, the jury at risk,” Judge Jackson said in court.

It wasn’t the last time Mr. Jones’ rhetoric caused headaches for Stone, a longtime confidant.

After Stone’s guilty verdicts were read in court, prosecutors insisted he should be jailed while he awaits sentencing. Prosecutor Jonathan Kravis accused Stone of violating a gag order by allegedly sending a message to Mr. Jones asking to be pardoned by Mr. Trump.

Judge Jackson denied the request.

The Stone verdicts made him the latest Trump campaign figure to be convicted on charges brought by Mr. Mueller.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is serving a federal sentence for tax and financial fraud. Longtime Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes. Former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has served 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI.

Minutes after the verdicts were announced, President Trump fired off an angry tweet accusing top Democrats of crimes.

“So they now convict Roger Stone of lying and want to jail him for many years to come. 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?” the president tweeted.

As the verdicts were read, Stone stood still showing little emotion. His wife hugged family members.

The couple left the courthouse mere minutes after the verdicts. Stone and his wife walked arm-in-arm, with the political strategist clutching a red Bible.

Neither Stone nor his attorneys were willing to comment on the verdicts.

Prosecutors said Stone lied to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017 about his efforts to learn when WikiLeaks would release damaging emails hacked from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Stone told Congress five different lies about his efforts to connect with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. All told, prosecutors called four witnesses, including former Trump campaign figures Steve Bannon and Rick Gates.

Mr. Bannon said the campaign viewed Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks, while Gates said he believed his campaign colleague had inside information about the emails.

Defense attorneys said the committee misled Stone, not the other way around. They said Congress lulled him into believing he would be discussing Russian election meddling, not WikiLeaks.

Bruce Rogow, one of Stone’s attorneys, said his client had no motivation to lie because there was nothing wrong with trying to contact WikiLeaks.

Stone did not take the stand in his defense, but jurors still heard from him. The defense rested after playing a 50-minute audiotape of Stone’s testimony before Congress.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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