The Department of Justice and Roger Stone’s attorneys are sparring over whether federal prosecutors can show a clip from “The Godfather: Part II” at the longtime Republican political operative’s trial next month.
Prosecutors say that on “multiple occasions,” Mr. Stone told a witness he should do a “Frank Pentangeli” during his 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.
In the 1974 movie, Frank Pentangli is a character who pretends not to know critical information about the Corleone crime family.
The Justice Department this summer asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson to show jurors the relevant movie scene, saying it is a “critical part” of their case against Mr. Stone.
Prosecutors have charged Mr. Stone with lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
“That scene played a direct part in the very obstructive acts charged in this case,” wrote Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for Washington, DC.
Mr. Stone’s lawyers have argued the film clip would prejudice jurors because it would suggest their client has ties to the Mafia.
Judge Jackson asked both sides to resolve the issue. But the Justice Department on Thursday asked the judge to help, admitting they are at an impasse.
Ms. Liu said in a court filing prosecutors offered to read jurors a jointly written statement describing the scene, but Mr. Stone’s attorney’s balked. Defense counsel has insisted the clip should only be played if witnesses reference it during the trial.
Francis Ford Coppola, the film’s director, told MSNBC this week the clip should be allowed at the trial “if it is relevant to the case.”
“The Godfather has become part of the culture,” he said in an interview. “From my point of view, anyone would take stuff from a fictional gangster picture and put it in real life, that is not behavior… I would recommend.”
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