by Chuck Ross
The judge overseeing the trial of Roger Stone rejected a request from the Trump confidant’s defense lawyers Tuesday to remove a potential juror whose husband works on the Justice Department unit involved in the Russia investigation and who admitted to having negative views of President Donald Trump, according to reports.
At the beginning of jury selection, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama appointee, said that she would not remove potential jurors solely on the basis that they work for the federal government or because of their views of Trump.
That position was tested at the very start of jury selection at Stone’s trial, which recessed early after the longtime political operative fell ill.
The potential juror served as a press secretary in the Office of Management and Budget during the Obama administration, according to Politico and Reuters. She also admitted to having a negative view of Trump.
The potential juror’s husband also currently works in the Justice Department’s national security division, which was involved in the investigation of the Trump campaign and other Trump associates, including Stone.
A grand jury indicted Stone, 67, on Jan. 24 on five counts of making false statements to Congress, one count of witness intimidation and one count of obstructing an official proceeding.
The special counsel’s team investigated whether Stone was a possible link between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which published emails stolen from Democrats during the 2016 election.
Prosecutors did not charge Stone with any crimes related to the hacking or handling of emails, and there is no evidence in the special counsel’s report that he did. Instead, Stone is accused of lying during his House Intelligence Committee testimony in September 2017 regarding his discussions with Trump campaign officials and other associates regarding WikiLeaks’ plans to release Democrats’ emails.
Witnesses in the special counsel’s investigation have said that Stone openly discussed WikiLeaks’ plans to release information that would be damaging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But Stone has denied having inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ activities and has insisted that any claims he made about the group releasing emails was based on public reports and his own speculation.
Stone and his lawyers have raised concerns that he cannot get a fair trial in Washington, D.C., a staunch liberal enclave.
The juror they sought to strike from the pool acknowledged following developments in the special counsel’s investigation. But Jackson said that she accepted the potential juror’s claim that she did not have an opinion of the Stone case.
“She said credibly she doesn’t have an opinion on this case,” Jackson said, according to Reuters.
A lawyer for Stone did not respond to a request for comment. Jury selection resumes Wednesday.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.