The Justice Department will have to weigh in on whether Roger Stone’s surrender date should be delayed, as the longtime GOP operative has requested.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered Tuesday night that, by Thursday, the government “file a submission setting forth its position on defendant’s motion to extend his surrender date, and its reasons for that position, in writing.”
In requesting a 60-day delay to his June 30 surrender date, Stone said that he had been informed that the government didn’t oppose that request because it was within its “guidance on the handling of voluntary surrender dates during the pandemic at this point in time.”
Jackson appears to be skeptical of that reasoning, or at least Stone’s description of it.
That she gave the Justice Department such explicit instructions for how she wants it to defend its position on the matter suggests that she has some pause about trusting it at its word as well.
She didn’t reference it in her order, but last week Stone said on his Instagram that the feds did not support his request to delay his surrender date. When the DOJ files its response on Thursday, we’ll see if it flip-flopped on the matter or if Stone is merely misconstruing his communications with the government. Whether the career DOJ attorneys on Stone’s prosecution sign on to the response will also provide a hint as to whether higher ups on the DOJ intervened to support Stone’s request.
Stone’s delay request acknowledged that the prison he is scheduled to report to at the end of the month has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to its website.
So he pointed to the fact that it has 25 COVID-19 tests currently pending. Judge Jackson wants the government in its response to tell her the results of those tests.
The timing of Stone’s effort comes as the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday hosts the lead prosecutor on his case for testimony about the extraordinary steps DOJ leadership took to water down its sentencing recommendation. The prosecutor, Aaron Zelinksy, has alleged the move was politically motivated.
Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for making false statements and obstructing Congress’ Russia probe.