Political

Anti-Trump social media posts by Roger Stone jury forewoman fuel controversy in case

Lawyers for President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and advisor Roger Stone are eyeing anti-Trump and other social media posts by a woman who says she served as the forewoman of the jury in his case.

Stone in November was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering.

The posts by the forewoman, Tomeka Hart, which included one referring to Stone’s arrest last year and one made the day he was convicted, came to light Wednesday night and added more fuel to a firestorm of controversy over the upcoming sentencing of the Republican operative.

Trump himself on Thursday morning in a Twitter post called out Hart, a Democrat who once ran for Congress, for what he said appeared to be her “significant bias.”

Trump has repeatedly blasted the prosecution of his former advisor Stone, and has refused to rule out pardoning him.

One of Stone’s lawyers, Grant Smith, in an interview with CNBC, said, “We are reviewing all of the recently posted new information, and we will evaluate and take the appropriate action.”

Smith declined to say whether such action could include a request for a new trial for Stone, who is due to be sentenced Feb. 20.

Joseph Tacopina, a New York criminal defense lawyer who is not connected to the case, told CNBC that getting a judge to grant Stone a new trial based on Hart’s posts is “going to be monumentally difficult.”

“Even taking her posts at face value, it doesn’t rise to the level of automatic reversal,” Tacopina said.

He said the defense would face extremely long odds of getting a new trial if it could be shown that Hart did not give false statements during jury selection, and if her social media posts could have been discovered by Stone’s lawyers during the selection process but failed to do so.

Michael Caputo, a New York Republican strategist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, and a friend of Stone’s, told CNBC that during the trial he closely watched Hart from the moment she disclosed in jury selection that she had once run for Congress until the verdict came in.

“”She said [during jury seletction that] Donald Trump didn’t interest her that much and felt that she could be fair considering justice for one of his aides,” Caputo recalled.

“We suspected that she was biased,” Caputo said, referring to himself and Stone’s family. “When I heard that she was selected the foreman I expected the worst.”

Caputo said that “I was stunned” to learn that Hart had public social media posts critical of Trump that were not discovered or raised by the defense during jury selection in an effort to keep Hart off the panel.

“If this wasn’t discovered it means it wasn’t sought,” Caputo said.

Caputo, who has organized a committee to push Trump to pardon Stone, said that Stone’s sentencing should be postponed pending an inquiry into Hart’s answers during jury selection.

Hart did not immediately return a request for comment.

Her Facebook page was deactivated as of Thursday morning, but her Twitter account remained public.

Hart’s LinkedIn page identifies her as a senior program officer at Bill Melinda Gates Foundation. She previously served as president and CEO of the Memphis Urban League, and on the Memphis, Tenn., school board.

CNN reported Wednesday that Hart, in a Facebook post this week, said she wanted to “stand up” for the four prosecutors who quit Stone’s case after the Department of Justice said it would reduce their recommendation that Stone serve between seven and nine years in prison.

The DOJ’s move, which came after Trump harshly criticized the first recommendation, outraged congressional Democrats, who accused Trump of improper political interference in the department by pushing for a lighter sentence for Stone.

Article source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/13/roger-stone-lawyers-evaluating-trump-posts-by-jury-forewoman.html

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