Roger Stone demanded a retrial late Friday in a dramatic new twist in his prosecution – after the jury foreperson was revealed to be an anti-Donald Trump Democratic Congressional candidate who posted about Stone’s arrest before his case.
Stone filed a sealed motion which the Department of Justice must respond to on Tuesday, two days before he was supposed to be sentenced.
The Washington Post reported that the motion was a request for a retrial, which is his second attempt at overcoming the outcome of his trial.
Stone was convicted on seven counts including witness tampering and lying to Congress and has already lost an attempt to force a retrial by claiming another juror was biased against him.
Trump had seized on the revelations and on Thursday said the juror had ‘significant bias’ – part of a string of interventions which have thrust his attorney general and the Department of Justice into a maelstrom.
The foreperson, Tomeka Hart, revealed her identity in a Facebook post where she defended the federal prosecutors who handled the case – after Trump publicly attacked them this week.
The president tweeted Thursday, amid an uproar in Congress over his interventions in Stone’s case: ‘Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the ‘Justice’ Department. @foxandfriends @FoxNews,’ he wrote.
Backing: Donald Trump has questioned why Roger Stone – who was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction – was prosecuted. He and the first lady left the White House for Mar-a-Lago just before the Stone legal time asked for a retrial
Evidence of bias? Tomeka Hart revealed herself to be the foreperson of the Roger Stone jury and was then revealed to be a failed Democratic candidate for Congress who had posed with then DNC chair Donna Brazile
Legal d-day: Roger Stone is scheduled to be sentenced on February 20 but is now asking for a retrial
Decision time: Amy Berman Jackson, the Obama-appointed federal judge who oversaw Roger Stone’s trial, now has to consider his second application for a retrial
Hired: Seth Ginsberg (right) is best known for his role in the acquittal of John Gotti Jr. (center), the son of the Teflon don and head of the Gambino crime family. Ginsberg was part of a legal team led by Charles Carnesi (left) during five trials in Manhattan, which ended in Gotti’s acquittal
Trump had also blasted the sentence of up to nine years recommended by a team of federal prosecutors – an action that preceded the Justice Department’s extraordinary turnaround and filing of a new sentencing memo to the judge that made no recommendation of jail time.
Following the turnaround, four career prosecutors had themselves removed from the case, and one left his position entirely.
Hart wrote that she decided to end her ‘silence’ on the case to ‘stand up’ for the four prosecutors, whose decision to withdraw was taken as an obvious protest.
Amid the uproar and Democrats saying Trump is acting against the rule of law following his acquittal of impeachment articles in the Senate, Attorney General Bill Barr agreed to testify next month before the House Judiciary Committee, breaking a year-long absence.
Then he appeared to lash out at Trump, saying ‘stop the Tweeting,’ and telling ABC News that the president was ‘making my job impossible.’
Stone’s case is certain to center on Hart’s past – but will have to show that Hart failed to disclose her views when she filled in a jury questionnaire which asked if potential jurors could not put aside their views to offer Stone a fair trial.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has turned down a first retrial application, which Stone tried to get on the basis one of the jurors was an IRS attorney, and before the trial denied a defense request to strike a potential juror on the case, who was an Obama-era press official with admitted anti-Trump views.
That juror’s husband worked at the same Justice Department division that handled the probe leading to Stone’s prosecution.
Another Stone juror, Seth Cousins, donated to former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and other progressive causes, federal election records reviewed by Fox News show.
Hart was revealed to be a failed Democrat candidate for Congress and activist vehemently opposed to Trump.
‘I have kept my silence for months. Initially, it was for my safety. Then, I decided to remain silent out of fear of politicizing the matter,’ Hart said in her Facebook post on Wednesday.
‘But I can’t keep quiet any longer. I want to stand up for Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis – the prosecutors on the Roger Stone trial,’ Hart wrote, referring to the prosecutors who resigned in protest.
‘It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors. They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system of justice. For that, I wanted to speak up for them and ask you to join me in thanking them for their service,’ she said.
Stone’s supporters were shocked when a review of Hart’s social media posts showed that she posted on Twitter mocking Stone’s dramatic arrest prior to being seated on the jury, and frequently denounced Trump, including calling the president and his supporters racists.
In January 2019, Hart also re-tweeted a post by pundit Bakari Sellers mocking Stone’s arrest, and suggesting that racism was the reason conservatives were upset about the use of force in the FBI’s armed pre-dawn raid on his home.
It’s unclear whether Stone’s political views and social media history were disclosed during jury selection, potentially raising questions about fairness that could impact the verdict on appeal.
Months later, Hart was impaneled on Stone’s jury. On the day the jury convicted him, she posted emojis of hearts and fist pumps.
Hart retweeted a post about Stone’s arrest in January 2019, months before the trial
Hart unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, and is an activist who has participated in anti-Trump rallies and protests
Stone’s legal team bolstered its ranks Thursday with attorney Seth Ginsberg.
Ginsberg declined to go into specifics about his role in the Stone case.
He told DailyMail.com: ‘Roger has a fine team of attorneys and I’m pleased that he has asked me to assist them during the sentencing phase.
‘My role will be to provide representation to Roger, along with his current team of attorneys, in the sentencing phase.’
Ginsberg’s slick corporate profile hails his federal court expertise in helping ‘high net worth individuals in complex matrimonial and commercial matters’.
But he’s best known for representing Gotti – the former head of the Gambino crime family and son of notorious ‘Teflon Don’ John J. Gotti – who faced four trials in five years before he was cleared of racketeering in 2008.
Gotti could have faced 70 years behind bars but walked free when a third jury decided that, while he was likely behind the abduction and shooting of talk-show host Curtis Sliwa, the government had not proved a pattern of crimes, a necessary step to finding him guilty.
Ginsberg, who qualified for the bar in in 1994, assisted famed mob lawyer Charles Carnesi in the trials and went on to represent another Gambino soldier, Thomas Orefice, who is serving 96 months for racketeering and sex trafficking.
The association caused embarrassment for Ginsberg in 2010 when was he barred from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York for trying to enter with a bag of pot in his suitcase.
Ginsberg protested his innocence after a corrections officer found a small amount of the drug tucked inside a sandwich bag, blaming the find on his brother who had recently borrowed the case.
‘Thankfully, Mr. Gotti has not required my representation since the last charges against him were dismissed ten years ago,’ Ginsberg said of his mob links.
‘I have practiced criminal defense in the federal arena for more than 25 years and have been privileged to represent a wide range of individuals.’