The sentence handed down by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday came following almost two weeks of controversy over the US justice department’s handling of the case that erupted after William Barr, Mr Trump’s attorney-general, reversed a recommendation by career prosecutors that Mr Stone serve up to nine years in jail.
Mr Trump has publicly attacked the prosecutors, all four of whom quit the case after the sentencing reversal, as well as Judge Jackson and a juror in Mr Stone’s trial. The attorney-general has insisted his decision to overrule the prosecutors was made independently of the president.
The events surrounding Mr Stone’s sentencing have sparked accusations that Mr Barr is giving special treatment to the president’s allies and focused attention on Mr Trump’s claims of absolute authority to direct criminal prosecutions, even those of his friends.
John Crabb, a senior prosecutor in the US attorney’s office in Washington, told Judge Jackson the prosecution of Mr Stone was “righteous” and said the justice department was committed to enforcing the law “without fear or favour or political influence”.
Mr Crabb was grilled by Judge Jackson on why the justice department had changed course. Apologising for the confusion, he said the original team had “authorisation by the US attorney’s office to file the sentencing memo”, but there had been a miscommunication between the US attorney in Washington, Timothy Shea, and Mr Barr.
Mr Stone was the last person indicted by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to investigate links between Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government, before he wrapped up his probe without establishing a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and Russia.