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Roger Stone trial gets under way in federal court

USA JUSTICE (ADDS VIDEO) | 05 de noviembre de 2019

By Alex Segura Lozano

Washington, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- The trial of Roger Stone, formerly one of President Donald Trump's closest advisers, got under way on Tuesday in federal court, where he is facing seven charges stemming from the so-called "Russia probe" headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Stone's trial, which is expected to last two weeks, began Tuesday with jury selection and will continue on Wednesday with opening arguments.

Here are the keys for understanding and acquiring context surrounding the judicial proceedings against one of the most controversial political strategists on the US scene.

FACING SEVEN CHARGES

After being arrested by the FBI on Jan. 25 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Stone was charged with several counts related to obstruction of justice, including lying to the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the election, attempting to obstruct those proceedings and witness tampering.

If convicted, Stone could be sentenced to as much as 20 years behind bars.

According to prosecutors, the 67-year-old Republican strategist acted as a liaison between Trump and WikiLeaks, which disseminated e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee that were "prejudicial" for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

However, shortly after being charged, Stone was released on $250,000 bail.

LOYALTY TO TRUMP

Stone said after being released on bail that no matter what kind of pressure is brought to bear upon him he will never give false testimony against Trump, and he will not do what he claimed former Trump personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen - now serving a three-year prison sentence - did, which he said was to invent lies to alleviate pressure on himself.

The Republican dirty trickster, who collaborated up until August 2015 with Trump's election campaign and later maintained regular contact with and publicly supported him, has not changed his stance since then, although he has said he would be open to cooperating with the investigation.

Some experts think that this presumed loyalty to the president is designed to keep alive the possibility that Trump may pardon Stone if he is found guilty.

MAINTAINS HIS INNOCENCE

Days after being arrested, Stone said in a Washington DC federal court that he was innocent of all the charges against him

The GOP adviser said that the accusations against him "are false" adding that none of his actions were illegal since, he claimed, he had only been exercising his First Amendment rights that, among other things, guarantee freedom of expression and association.

DEVOTION TO NIXON

Stone, the most flamboyant of all the personalities in the Russia investigation, is a fervent admirer of the late Richard Nixon, who governed the US from 1969-1974, and he has a tattoo of the late president's smiling face on his back.

He told The New Yorker magazine in 2008 that he admired Nixon for his indestructibility and resistence, and because he never gave in.

Nixon resigned the presidency in 1974 after eruption of the Watergate scandal involving the theft of documents from the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the later coverup of that crime by his administration.

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