Here are 5 things to know about Judge Amy Berman Jackson — including why right-wingers hate her

Here are 5 things to know about Judge Amy Berman Jackson — including why right-wingers hate her
Georgetown University/NBC News

Posting a photo of a federal judge on Instagram with a depiction of crosshairs next to her head is never a good idea, especially when she’s the judge in one’s criminal case. But veteran GOP political operative Roger Stone did exactly that recently, lambasting Judge Amy Berman Jackson and Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the same post. With the crosshairs in the upper left hand corner of the photo of Jackson, Stone wrote, “Through legal trickery, Deep State Hitman Robert Mueller has guaranteed that my upcoming show trial is before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an Obama-appointed judge who dismissed the Benghazi charges against Hillary Clinton and incarcerated Paul Manafort prior to his conviction for any crime.”

The 66-year-old Stone went on to remove the post and apologized to Jackson, who is the judge in his criminal case; nonetheless, she ordered him to appear in court this Thursday, February 21. Stone is facing seven criminal counts as a result of Mueller’s Russia investigation, including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

Jackson’s name has come up a lot in connection with Russiagate and criminal charges against President Donald Trump’s allies. In addition to being assigned Stone’s case, the 64-year-old judge was also assigned the cases of Paul Manafort (Trump’s former campaign manager) and Rick Gates (a former Trump campaign aide and Manafort’s former business partner).

Here are some important facts about Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

1. Jackson revoked Manafort’s bail in June 2018

When Mueller’s Russia investigation led to the indictments of Manafort and Gates, Jackson granted both of them bail in October 2017 and placed them under house arrest. Gates decided to accept a plea deal from Mueller, pleading guilty to one count of making false statements and a count of conspiracy in exchange for leniency. Manafort, however, opted to go to trial, and he wasn't rearrested until June 2018 — when Jackson revoked his bail for witness tampering and ordered him jailed while awaiting trial. Manafort has been incarcerated ever since.

2. Jackson would have been the judge in Manafort’s second trial

Originally, Manafort was supposed to have two separate trials: one in Alexandria, Virginia with Judge T.S. Ellis III presiding, and the second in Washington, D.C. with Jackson presiding. On August 22, Manafort was convicted of eight criminal charges (including bank and tax fraud) in the first trial, but a mistrial was declared on ten other charges. The second trial, however, never came about. In September, Jackson was getting ready to preside over Manafort’s second trial when he changed his mind and accepted a plea deal with Mueller—only to, Mueller alleges, violate his part of the deal by repeatedly lying to the special counsel’s team.

3. Jackson ruled that Manafort violated the terms of his plea deal with Mueller

The terms of Mueller’s plea deal with Manafort were clear: a more lenient sentence meant that he had to fully cooperate with Mueller’s team. And on February 13, Jackson ruled that Manafort violated the agreement by lying to federal prosecutors and a grand jury. According to Jackson’s ruling, Mueller’s office is “no longer bound by its obligations under the plea agreement”—which will most likely mean more prison time for Manafort.

4. Jackson will sentence Manafort on March 13

In September, Mueller agreed to drop the money laundering and foreign lobbying charges as part of his plea agreement with Manafort. But Trump’s former campaign manager will still be sentenced for the conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges he pled guilty to, and Jackson will be the one sentencing him. Manafort’s sentencing date was originally set for March 5 but was rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13.

5. Jackson dismissed wrongful death suit against Hillary Clinton

Trumpistas dislike Jackson not only because of Russiagate and her connection to President Barack Obama, who nominated her. They also dislike her for being, as they see it, too favorable to Democrat Hillary Clinton. In May 2017, Jackson dismissed a wrongful death suit against Clinton that was filed by the parents of two Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

Clinton was serving as secretary of state in the Obama Administration in 2012, and the lawsuit alleged that her use of a private e-mail server contributed to the attack. But Jackson disagreed, writing, “The untimely death of plaintiffs’ sons is tragic, and the court does not mean to minimize the unspeakable loss that plaintiffs have suffered in any way. But when one applies the appropriate legal standards, it is clear that plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to rebut the presumption that Secretary Clinton was acting in her official capacity when she used her private e-mail server.”

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