WASHINGTON: Donald Trump’s longtime aide Roger Stone was convicted Friday of lying to Congress and witness tampering in a bid to spare the president embarrassment over the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Stone was arrested in January at his home in Florida on charges brought by then special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the Russia investigation.
A jury of nine women and three men found the 67-year-old guilty on all seven counts arising from his 2017 testimony to lawmakers investigating Kremlin efforts to damage Trump’s election rival Hillary Clinton.
The sixth and final Trump aide to be convicted of charges brought by Mueller, Stone’s sentencing has been set for Feb 6 and he faces up to 20 years in prison.
The president immediately responded to the verdict on Twitter, suggesting that it was a “double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country”.
Stone had argued that the charges against him were politically-motivated but prosecutors demonstrated how he lied and bullied witnesses to protect Trump from embarrassment.
Jurors notably saw texts in which Stone pressured an associate to lie about being an intermediary between him and WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, calling the witness “a rat” and threatening his dog.
The case unveiled new details on the Trump campaign’s interest in Democratic Party computer files hacked by Russia and made public by WikiLeaks.
Former campaign official Rick Gates testified that he was in the car when Trump took a call from Stone in late July 2016. After the call, Trump told Gates that “more information would be coming” about WikiLeaks.
The allegation casts doubt on the president’s claim to Mueller’s investigators that he did not recall discussing the organization with his longtime aide.
Stone’s trial played out just blocks from House impeachment hearings into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.
Stone began his career as a political trickster for Richard Nixon, whose face he has tattooed on his back.
Critics say his practice of political “dark arts” over the last 50 years has been a major contributor to the so-called “swamp” of corruption that Trump has vowed to drain.