A federal judge rejected Roger Stone’s claim that he deserved a new trial because a biased Internal Revenue Service employee sat on the jury that convicted him of lying to help President Donald Trump.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling on the previously sealed request was made public on Wednesday, a day after four prosecutors quit the case in response to a rare Justice Department decision to overrule their suggestion of a harsh sentence for the longtime Republican operative.
Stone had argued the juror was biased because the person is employed by an IRS division “that works hand-in-hand with the Department of Justice prosecuting criminal tax matters,” according to the ruling. The longtime Trump booster also said the juror had improperly read about the case.
Jackson, who’s due to sentence Stone on Feb. 20, disagreed. She said Stone’s defense lawyers had ample opportunity to challenge the juror “for cause” before the trial and failed to do so.
“The court finds in its discretion that it was not necessary to strike the juror for alleged bias or for failure to follow the court’s instructions,” Jackson said in her previously sealed Feb. 5 decision.
Bruce Rogow, Stone’s lawyer, declined to comment.
Stone’s claim of juror bias is the latest twist in the criminal case stemming from the probe into Russian election meddling. All four U.S. prosecutors who backed a seven-to-nine year prison stay for Stone resigned from the case on Tuesday after the Justice Department criticized their findings and cut the recommended sentence by more than half.
Stone, who suggested no jail time, was convicted in November of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
Trump remarked to reporters Wednesday that the prosecutors “hit the road pretty quickly” after Justice signaled it would cut their recommended sentence.
“It was a disgrace to our country,” he said of the initial sentencing recommendation. “Frankly, they ought to apologize to him.”
“They ought to go back to school and learn,” Trump said later of the prosecutors.