Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to more than three years in prison Thursday for obstructing a congressional investigation in a case that has sparked fears about presidential interference in the justice system.
Soon after Judge Amy Berman Jackson pronounced sentence, Trump publicly decried Stone’s conviction as unfair and prominent Republican legislators were giving tacit support for a pardon. But Trump said he wasn’t ready to act just yet.
“I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do because I would love to see Roger exonerated,” he said. “I’m going to watch the process. I’m going to watch very closely. … At some point I’ll make a determination.”
The case was marked by the Justice Department’s extraordinary about-face on a sentencing recommendation and a very public dispute between Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who said the president was undermining the department’s historical independence and making “it impossible for me to do my job.”
The president responded by asserting that he was the “chief law enforcement officer of the federal government.”
Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
He was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted on charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Everyone knows Wisconsin will be in the spotlight for the presidential race in 2020. It's one of just a few states where the electorate is so evenly divided, it could swing either way. That is the biggest prize on the ballot this year, but it's far from the only contest for Wisconsin voters. Here are the highlights of what's on Wisconsin's political horizon in 2020:
Wisconsin will be the focus of the presidential race all year. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016 and both sides expect another close race. Wisconsin is one of just a few states expected to be competitive and for that reason, many expect it to be the epicenter of the fight for the White House. Democrats will get a chance to vote for their nominee on April 7. With a large field and unsettled race, many expect it to still be undecided for Wisconsin's primary. Milwaukee hosts the Democratic National Convention in July and both sides are expected to flood the state with money ? and candidate appearances ? before the November election.
Wisconsin elects its Supreme Court justices and one of them who was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, is up for election in April. Dan Kelly was appointed in 2016 and now he's running for a full 10-year term. He's part of the current 5-2 conservative majority on the court. If he wins, that majority will not change. But if one of two liberal candidates prevail, the conservative hold on the court will drop to 4-3. Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone have Democratic support in the race. A Feb. 18 primary will narrow the field to two candidates. The winner will be elected on April 7. That is the same day as Wisconsin's presidential primary, when Democratic turnout is expected to be high. That could spell trouble for Kelly.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making her first public appearance since undergoing lung cancer surgery in December.
The 85-year-old Ginsburg is attending a concert at a museum a few blocks from the White House that is being given by her daughter-in-law and other musicians. Patrice Michaels is married to Ginsburg’s son, James. Michaels is a soprano and composer.
The concert is dedicated to Ginsburg’s life in the law.
Ginsburg had surgery in New York on Dec. 21. She missed arguments at the court in January, her first illness-related absence in more than 25 years as a justice.
She has been recuperating at her home in Washington since late December.
Ginsburg had two previous bouts with cancer. She had colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.
The justice sat in the back of the darkened auditorium at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The National Constitution Center, which sponsored the concert, did not permit photography.
James Ginsburg said before the concert that his mother is walking a mile a day and meeting with her personal trainer twice a week.
The performance concluded with a song set to Ginsburg’s answers to questions.
In introducing the last song, Michaels said, “bring our show to a close, but not the epic and notorious story of RBG.”
The Supreme Court began its term with the tumultuous confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, followed by a studied avoidance of drama on the high court bench — especially anything that would divide the five conservatives and four liberals.
The justices have been unusually solicitous of each other in the courtroom since Kavanaugh's confirmation, and several have voiced concern that the public perceives the court as merely a political institution. Chief Justice John Roberts seems determined to lead the one Washington institution that stays above the political fray. Even Roberts' rebuke of President Donald Trump, after the president criticized a federal judge, was in defense of an independent, apolitical judiciary.
The next few weeks will test whether the calm can last. When they gather in private on Jan. 4 to consider new cases for arguments in April and into next term, the justices will confront a raft of high-profile appeals.
Abortion restrictions, workplace discrimination against LGBT people and partisan gerrymandering are on the agenda. Close behind are appeals from the Trump administration seeking to have the court allow it to end an Obama-era program that shields young immigrants from deportation and to put in place restrictive rules for transgender troops.