Andrew McCarthy: Stone sentencing ends Russia Collusion, Part I — but Dems cooking up even weaker sequel

The Roger Stone sentencing farce is as fitting an end to the Russia Collusion saga as one could conjure up ... though it might be more fitting to call it the end of Russia Collusion, Part I. No sooner did the first flick conclusively bomb than the media-Democrat complex was issuing the casting call for Russia Collusion, Part II.

In the sequel, you’re asked to believe that Putin is manipulating the chesspieces to steal a second term for President Trump – somehow preferring an incumbent who beefs up the U.S. armed forces, pressures NATO allies to beef up theirs, imposes painful sanctions on Moscow, provides lethal aid to Ukraine, ramps up U.S. energy production, and seeks to thwart the Kremlin’s coveted natural-gas partnership with Germany, over an unabashed socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union and whose policies would wreck the American economy, end the resurgence of American energy production, and hollow out the American armed forces.

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It’s a lunatic plot. But the scriptwriters no doubt figure that if they can peddle what they’ve been peddling for the last two weeks, they can peddle anything.

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Stone was sentenced to 40 months’ imprisonment. This was smack in the middle of the federal sentencing guidelines’ range — 37 to 46 months — that Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department argued would be a reasonable term. The AG’s position was a second-guess of the Stone trial’s prosecutors. That team, dominated by Mueller fabulists who portrayed the Stone case as Watergate revisited, had recommended something closer to a nine-year sentence.

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The severity of the trial team’s recommendation was objectively absurd. It was, more to the point, merely a recommendation — as was Barr’s milder but still stiff counter. It had no legally binding effect whatsoever on the judge. In federal law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the judge decides the sentence.

Not only is the sentencing court free to ignore any recommendation from prosecutors, which judges do with frequency; the court is free to ignore the guidelines — the regime Congress introduced in the 1980s in a (moderately successful) effort to end obscene disparities in sentences imposed on similarly situated defendants.

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