Feb 20, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 428 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: The Stone show waits on Trump

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The next public debate for President Trump is whether to pardon Roger Stone, who was sentenced today to 40 months as a result of the Mueller investigation.

Why it matters: Trump actively campaigned against Stone’s prosecution, and the post-sentencing response from his allies shows a split over how to proceed.

  • Trump called the initial sentence recommendation “horrible and very unfair," which was paralleled by AG Bill Barr overruling career prosecutors.
  • Trump then accused the jury forewoman of "bias" after she defended those prosecutors, all of whom quit the case with one leaving the government.
  • He tweeted a video early this morning of Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggesting he pardon Stone.
  • Finally, Trump told reporters that he wants to let the process play out because Stone has a "very good chance of exoneration."

What they're saying:

  • Judge Amy Berman Jackson: "He was not prosecuted for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
  • Stone spokesperson Kristin Davis: “It falls on President Trump to use the power of a pardon as the final means of checks and balances to right this horrible wrong.”
  • House Republican Matt Gaetz: "When we designed our Constitution, there were vestiges of the British monarchy that Americans still had some reverence for ... and one was the notion that the executive, that the sovereign could extend unlimited grace."
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted: "Under our system of justice President Trump has all the legal authority in the world to review this case, in terms of commuting the sentence or pardoning ... This is the way our legal system is intended to work."

What's next: Stone is out on bail pending a motion for retrial.

  • Axios' Jonathan Swan reports some of Trump's advisers want him to wait until after the election.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Bonus: Tweets du jour

Former NFL star Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson is neighbors with Roger Stone, and his tweets tell their own story of this saga.

H/T Axios' Zach Basu
2. State of play
  1. A record 20 million watched last night's Democratic debate, which featured the debut of Mike Bloomberg. Our debate recap.
  2. Speaking of Bloomberg: His campaign spent more than $220 million in January.
  3. Top NSC official Victoria Coates has been reassigned to the Energy Department amid the "Anonymous" fallout. Go deeper.
  4. Huge Wall Street news: Morgan Stanley will buy E*Trade in a $13 billion all stock deal. Go deeper.
  5. The coronavirus outbreak already is eating into companies' 2020 plans, with a number of firms announcing significant expected hits to their sales. Go deeper.
3. 1 historical thing

Challenger mission specialist Guion Bluford, Jr. on his return to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo: AP/File

Coming Monday to the Smithsonian Channel: “Black in Space: Breaking the Color Barrier,” about how black astronauts surmounted racial barriers and hostile commanders to get close to the stars, AP reports.

  • The road to get black astronauts into space in the U.S. began under JFK, but no African Americans made it to the moon at that time.
  • During this era, "Star Trek" communication officer Lieutenant Uhura got the closest even though she was a fictional character.

Worthy of your time.

Mike Allen