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This is who Roger Stone really is

Updated 10:30 PM ET, Thu February 13, 2020

Editor's Note: Alice Stewart is a CNN political commentator, NPR political contributor, former resident fellow at Harvard University and former communications director for Ted Cruz for President.

(CNN) - A life of lies has finally caught up with Roger Stone, a self-professed "dirty trickster" and longtime friend of President Trump. Or has it? As the wheels of justice turn for a man who deserves to be behind bars, it's evident the President can, and probably will, exercise his authority to intervene and potentially pardon Stone, who was convicted last November of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

Stone is still awaiting sentencing, and earlier this week, federal prosecutors recommended he serve seven to nine years in prison.

President Trump weighed in on Twitter, calling it "ridiculous," and within hours, top brass at the Justice Department overruled the prosecutors' recommendation, calling for a shorter sentence instead. The President then praised Attorney General Bill Barr for "taking charge of a case that was totally out of control."

The ball is now in the court of Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is expected to sentence Stone on February 20. I spoke to a US district judge with a great deal of experience who said that if it were up to him, he would issue a sentence that was on the higher end of the recommendation, given Stone's history of lies and underhanded tactics. The judge I spoke to understands full well that regardless of what Judge Jackson does, President Trump is likely to cut Stone loose.

Be that as it may, it's worth noting Stone's underhanded history, or at least my connection with it.

In 2016, my former boss, Sen. Ted Cruz and then-candidate Donald Trump were locked in a heated Republican primary race. Shortly after Super Tuesday, Stone was the only source quoted on the record in the outlandish National Enquirer story that Cruz was involved with not one, but five mistresses.

The false story of multiple affairs was profoundly damaging not only to Cruz's campaign, which lost valuable time responding to the claims, but also for the innocent women who were wrongly accused of being involved. While the National Enquirer did not identify the five alleged mistresses, it included pixelated headshots with black bars over their eyes.

My happily married friend and CNN colleague Amanda Carpenter was falsely accused and 'gaslit' live on television about her involvement in the bogus story. This resulted in brutal online harassment, which included negative tweets, photoshopped images of her children and trolls who impersonated her husband with fake social media accounts. Years later, she tells me she is still constantly vigilant against bad actors seeking to lie, unfairly smear opponents and take the low road for political advantage.

Stone also pushed the conspiracy theory that Sen. Cruz's father, Pastor Rafael Cruz, was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Stone claimed Rafael had "CIA connections" and told Chuck Todd, "I think he's a shady character."

Rafael is one of the most God-fearing men I have met. He is a good man. As the tabloid story began to infiltrate mainstream media, I had to call Rafael and actually ask him if he was involved in the assassination of JFK in order to rebut the claims to media. Needless to say, he said "no."

The personal character assassinations are just a small fraction of Stone's life's work dedicated to political destruction. It's fully appropriate for Stone's character history to be considered in the upcoming sentencing. Understanding full well that a presidential pardon is likely on the horizon, I encourage Judge Jackson to lean on the high end of the guidelines and let the chips fall where they may.


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