Right-wing political operative Roger Stone, confidant to President Donald Trump, was sentenced to three years and four months in federal prison and a $20,000 fine Thursday on seven charges of witness tampering, obstruction, and lying to Congress.
Stone, a longtime friend of Trump’s and his former campaign adviser, said very little in the courtroom, hanging his head low and deferring instead to his lawyers. U.S. government prosecutors initially asked the court that Stone receive seven to nine years in prison for his crimes, but that demand was retracted and revised at the direction of Attorney General William Barr after Trump tweeted that the sentencing recommendation for Stone was too harsh. Although Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the original sentencing recommendation was well researched and that Stone’s crimes were a threat to “the very foundation of our democracy,“ she ultimately agreed that seven to nine years was too much for Stone, who is 67 years old.
Like prior Stone court appearances, the scene inside and out of the courtroom was populated by right-wing activists demonstrating support for their beloved self-described “dirty trickster.” Outside the courthouse, Infowars host Owen Shroyer lambasted mainstream media reporters for covering Stone’s sentencing, which he characterized as an injustice against Stone.
At the back of an overflow room upstairs at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, a small gaggle of Proud Boys—the name of a right-wing group known for its fisticuffs form of activism—sat dressed in business casual attire rather than their signature Fred Perry polo uniforms. The SPLC-designated hate group has frequently acted as Stone’s de facto security force for more than a year and has helped spread pro-Stone messaging at Trump events and outside of Stone’s previous court appearances.
Across the overflow room, Milo Yiannopoulos leaned against the wood paneling on the wall with his eyes shut, using his jacket as a makeshift pillow. According to messages he posted on his Telegram channel—one of the few social media platforms from which he has not been suspended for hate speech—he had not slept for days because he was worried about what would be in store for his “friend” Stone.
“I just can’t rest. I have a knot in my stomach that won’t go away,” Yiannopoulos wrote Thursday morning. “Time is running out for Trump to do something.”
A courthouse employee eventually ejected Yiannopoulos from the overflow room for his failure to stay awake.
Outside the courthouse after Stone’s sentencing, members of the group hoisted a massive banner emblazoned with a demand that Stone be pardoned.
“It’s simple. We’re here to support our friend through this injustice,” Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio told Right Wing Watch. “If [Stone] wasn’t into politics, do you think he’d be doing 40 months?” asked Tarrio, referring to the sentence handed down by Judge Jackson.
Soon after Stone’s sentence was announced, Trump said that Stone had a “very good chance of exoneration,” but that he wouldn’t act to pardon Stone yet. As Politico reports, in Trump World, there’s little question whether Trump will ultimately pardon Stone, only a question of when
After his appearance in court, Stone left in his vehicle without offering comment to reporters.
Ian Mahon contributed reporting to this article.