WASHINGTON -- Roger Stone, a self-described Republican dirty trickster and longtime ally of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to 40 months in prison Thursday for his crimes during the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson delayed sending Stone to prison until she hears defense motions seeking a new trial.
The politically charged case has caused turmoil in the Justice Department and in the federal judiciary, exposing a sensitive fault line between Attorney General William Barr and the president who nominated him.
Stone declined to address the court during the 2 1/2-hour sentencing hearing. But his defense lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, urged Jackson to be lenient, saying he had been punished enough by his arrest and trial. "The process really has been punishment enough," he said.
Ginsberg noted that Stone is 67 and cited his charitable work and lack of a criminal record. He said Stone is "real human being" and not just "the larger-than-life political persona he plays on TV."
Prosecutors had urged Jackson to impose a substantial prison term, although they did not say how long.
"This prosecution is and was righteous," said John Crabb, an assistant U.S. attorney. "The defendant was found guilty by a jury of his peers of obstructing justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering. The court should impose a substantial period of incarceration."
The four career prosecutors who won Stone's conviction initially recommended Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison, citing federal sentencing guidelines. Hours later, Trump denounced the proposed sentence on Twitter, calling it a "miscarriage of justice."
Barr and other top Justice Department officials believed the recommended sentence was too severe and ordered prosecutors to reduce it. The attorney general said he ordered the change before Trump tweeted his displeasure about it.
Rather than follow Barr's instructions, the four prosecutors withdrew from the case in protest; one resigned from the department. The Justice Department then filed a new motion that said Stone deserved a prison sentence but deferred to the judge on its potential length.