Federal prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to sentence Roger J. Stone Jr., President Trump’s longtime friend and former campaign adviser, to up to nine years in prison for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness to prevent investigators from discovering how the 2016 Trump campaign tried to benefit from stolen Democratic documents.
Mr. Stone, 67, deserved seven to nine years behind bars because he threatened the witness with bodily harm, interfered with a congressional investigation and then, after he was charged in a federal indictment, repeatedly flouted the orders of the judge overseeing his case, the prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
In a multiyear scheme, the prosecutors said, Mr. Stone lied under oath, forged documents and engaged in “a relentless and elaborate campaign to silence” the witness because he could have exposed his lies to the House Intelligence Committee. When flattery failed, they said, he harassed the witness and even threatened his life and that of his dog. Even if the witness believed Mr. Stone would personally never injure him, he feared that he could inspire others to do so, they said.
“Stone’s actions were not a one-off mistake in judgment. Nor were his false statements made in the heat of the moment. They were nowhere close to that,” the prosecutors argued. “Stone’s conduct over the past two years shows the low regard in which he holds the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation and this very criminal case.”
In their own memorandum, Mr. Stone’s lawyers argued that the prosecutors had misconstrued harmless messages from Mr. Stone to the witness, a New York radio host named Randy Credico, as genuine threats. They argued that Mr. Stone should be sentenced to less than 15 months in prison for the seven felonies he was found guilty of in November.
The evidence in Mr. Stone’s jury trial showed that in the months before the election, he strove to obtain emails that Russia had stolen from Democratic Party computers and funneled to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks then released the emails at strategic moments to damage Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent.
Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Stone used every chance he had to brief the Trump campaign about whatever he picked up about WikiLeaks’ plans. But in September 2017, he told the House Intelligence Committee that he never described to anyone involved in the Trump campaign his conversations with an intermediary to WikiLeaks. To cover up his lies, he urged Mr. Credico to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify before the committee.
“Stone’s criminal conduct was not an act of desperation. He is a man of substantial means, and he has enjoyed a modicum of fame from his years of being a political adviser and confidant to powerful politicians,” the prosecutors wrote. “His conduct was undertaken purposefully, by someone who knew exactly what he was doing.”
But the defense lawyers argued that Mr. Stone not only never intended to threaten Mr. Credico, but created no real obstacle for federal investigators. While Mr. Credico refused to testify before Congress, he cooperated fully with the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, they argued. And he in fact had no incriminating information about the Trump campaign or WikiLeaks, they said.
Mr. Credico himself submitted a letter asking the judge not to send Mr. Stone to prison, saying incarceration damaged both prisoners and their families. While he stood by his testimony on the stand, he wrote, “I never in any way felt that Stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or my dog.”
On the eve of the jury’s verdict in his trial in November, Mr. Stone appeared to appeal to the president for a pardon, using as his proxy Alex Jones, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who runs the website Infowars. Although Mr. Trump has said nothing about pardoning Mr. Stone, he quickly criticized the verdict, suggesting that prosecutors and F.B.I. officials had themselves lied during the Russia investigation.
Prosecutors characterized t Mr. Stone’s apparent appeal for a pardon as part of a pattern of violations of gag orders imposed by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court in Washington, who oversaw his case. They argued that Mr. Stone’s behavior before and after he was criminally charged underscored the need for a prison term to teach him respect for the law.
The prosecutors also stressed that Mr. Stone had threatened the judge herself in February 2019, when he posted a photo of her with an image of what appeared to be the cross hairs of a gun next to her head on social media. During a hearing on the matter, the prosecutors said, Mr. Stone “openly lied to this court about matters directly affecting the integrity of these proceedings.”
The prosecutors’ request that Mr. Stone be imprisoned contrasted sharply with their recent plea for leniency in the case of Rick Gates, Mr. Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman who also helped manage his inauguration. In recognition of his cooperation with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, prosecutors asked that Mr. Gates be sentenced to probation for his part in a criminal financial conspiracy and for lying to federal prosecutors.
Judge Jackson, who also oversaw that case, sentenced Mr. Gates in December to 45 days in jail.