Stone juror: Trump ‘attacking citizens for performing their civic duty’
A juror in the Roger Stone trial is coming to the defense of the foreperson who has become the target of attacks from President Trump and his allies in the conservative media.
“Elected officials have no business attacking citizens for performing their civic duty,” Seth Cousins, who sat on the jury in the trial of Trump’s longtime confidant, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday.
“When the president attacks our jury’s foreperson, he is effectively attacking every American who takes time off work, arranges child care and otherwise disrupts their life temporarily to participate in this civic duty,” he added. “His attacks denigrate both our service and the concept of equal justice under U.S. law.”
Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison last week after being found guilty of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his efforts during the 2016 election. His case gained massive scrutiny as it neared its conclusion due in large part to the president’s continued commentary.
Trump vehemently criticized the initial sentencing recommendation for Stone and has alleged that the foreperson of the jury had a bias against him and Stone. Trump leveled the charge after the individual, Tomeka Hart, defended the prosecution’s initial sentencing recommendation in a Facebook post. The post spurred enhanced scrutiny of her past social media activity, which included comments about former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation.
Trump claimed on Tuesday that “rarely” has a juror been “so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case.”
“She was totally biased, as is the judge,” Trump tweeted, calling the case a “miscarriage of justice” that is “sad to watch.”
Cousins pushed back heavily against the allegations, writing that the “striking irony” is that the foreperson “who has been the subject recently of numerous ad hominem attacks, was actually one of the strongest advocates for the rights of the defendant and for a rigorous process.”
“She expressed skepticism at some of the government’s claims and was one of the last people to vote to convict on the charge that took most of our deliberation time,” he said, adding that “Stone has used the manufactured controversy to demand a mistrial.”
He went on to argue that there is “no factual basis to say that the Stone jury was tainted” and that the jury conducted itself in the manner that was expected of it.
During a hearing on Tuesday on Stone’s motion for a new trial over allegations of juror bias, Judge Amy Berman Jackson criticized Trump and others for their attacks against the foreperson of the jury. Her comments came just before Trump tweeted new accusations against the juror over alleged bias.
Stone’s motion for a new trial is centered around the role Hart played on the jury, which came into question after she identified herself in a Facebook post after four prosecutors resigned from Stone’s case. The move from the prosecutors came after Justice Department leaders stepped in and asked for a lighter sentence than the one they recommended for Stone.
Jackson noted that Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson had publicly disparaged the juror.
The Post previously noted that Hart’s identity was known to both the prosecution and defense teams throughout pretrial proceedings and that jurors answered a list of questions that were intended to discover possible bias before a trial. The constitutional standard for trials requires a panel of “impartial, indifferent jurors,” however does not demand that they be “totally ignorant of the facts and issues involved.”
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