Roger Stone asks appeals court to keep him from prison

President Donald Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone is mounting a last-ditch bid to get a federal appeals court to put off the 40-month prison sentence he is facing after being convicted of trying to thwart a congressional investigation into alleged ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

Attorneys for Stone asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday for an emergency stay of U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling last week putting Stone, 67, under house arrest at his Fort Lauderdale home and directing him to report to a federal prison camp by July 14.

Stone’s lawyers say an undisclosed medical condition he suffers from leaves him at greater risk of death if he catches coronavirus, that his chances of being infected behind bars are high, and that the prison complex in Jesup, Ga., where he is supposed to serve his term is now reporting a half-dozen cases of the virus among inmates and three among staff.

While prosecutors did not oppose Stone’s request to Jackson to delay his scheduled prison reporting date from late June to early September, Stone’s latest legal filing indicates that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington has told his lawyers it will oppose his effort to get the appeals court to step in and force such a delay.

However, prosecutors apparently won’t object to a brief delay to allow the D.C. Circuit to consider the issue.

In a social media post on Monday evening, Stone said that he viewed the latest legal action as a longshot, but that he was determined to pursue every option in the court system even as he seeks a pardon from Trump.

“I recognize that the chances are overwhelming that the appeals court will remand the matter back to Judge Jackson,” Stone wrote on Instagram, “but it is vitally important that the American people see all of the false claims in her most recent ruling and I want the president to know that I have, in good faith ,exhausted all of my legal remedies and that an only an act of clemency by the Presideny [sic] will provide Justice in my case where I was charged on politically motivated ,fabricated charges and was denied a fair trial with an unbiased judge,an honest jury and uncorrupted and non political prosecutors.”

Trump has said Stone shouldn’t be concerned that he’ll be sent to prison, but the president has also predicted that his longtime confidant will be exonerated in the legal system. The president has strongly hinted that he’ll provide a pardon or commutation if necessary to stop Stone from being jailed.

Prior to Jackson’s ruling last week, Stone said he faced “certain” death in prison due to the virus. Online, he railed against the effort to jail him as a “death sentence” and “an attempt to kill me.”

In his social media posts, Stone said publicly that he has asthma and a history of respiratory issues. However, court filings detailing Stone’s medical history were put under seal, including a letter from a Miami Beach internist, Islon Woolf, who is described as Stone’s “treating physician.”

“The district court fails to acknowledge … that Dr. Woolf explains that the ‘lack of relevant data and guidance for patients suffering’ from Stone’s condition is ‘very concerning’ but that, based on the nature of the condition, it is reasonable to speculate that Stone is ‘at greater risk of infection and greater risk of complications from COVID-19,’” attorneys Seth Ginsberg and David Schoen wrote in the D.C. Circuit filing.

The lawyers said that by not detailing the health issue publicly, they were deferring to Jackson’s decision to treat it as confidential. She described Stone’s health condition as “medically controlled,” but his attorneys accuse her of “wholly ignoring” the doctor’s advice.

“The district court … makes no allowance for the fact that it may not be possible for Stone’s medical conditions, which require close monitoring and strict compliance with the directions of his physician, to remain controlled within a [Bureau of Prisons] facility,” Ginsberg and Schoen wrote.

The defense lawyers also disputed Jackson’s assessment that Stone already got the benefit of a federal prisons policy to allow defendants in nonviolent cases an additional 60 days to surrender as authorities try to keep prison head counts low to ward off coronavirus outbreaks by allowing some social distancing. His attorneys contend that an earlier delay from late April to the end of June was not triggered by that policy.

While the Georgia prison had not officially reported any Covid-19 cases among prisoners or staff as of the date of Jackson’s order, as of Monday evening the federal prisons’ webpage tracking the virus was reporting three inmates infected at Jesup, six positive tests among inmates and no infections among staff.

Stone and his lawyers have repeatedly noted that because testing of federal prisoners has been limited, outbreaks in those facilities are likely more widespread than the official tallies indicate.

Following a weeklong trial last November, a Washington jury found Stone guilty on all seven felony counts he faced: five of making false statements to Congress, one of obstruction of Congress, and one of witness tampering with both a House Intelligence Committee inquiry and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In February, Attorney General William Barr stirred allegations of political interference in the case when he stepped in to override prosecutors’ recommendation for a seven- to nine-year sentence for Stone under federal sentencing guidelines. All four of the line prosecutors on the case withdrew when Barr stepped in, and one quit the government altogether.

Jackson largely agreed with prosecutors on their initial calculation of the guidelines, but she ultimately sentenced Stone to only about half as much time as the prosecution originally sought.

Stone has a pending appeal of his convictions and sentence, but Barr called the prosecution “righteous.”

Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.