While the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump and the Justice Department’s intervention in Roger Stone’s sentencing was still boiling, right-wing media figures launched a new attack on the rule of law Thursday with a smear campaign against a juror in the case.
The juror in question is Tomeka Hart, who reportedly served as the foreperson on the jury that convicted Stone on seven counts. She revealed her identity on Facebook, and now she’s facing sustained accusations — many entirely false — of wrongdoing from the president’s defenders.
Trump fanned the flames Thursday morning on Twitter:
Now it looks like the fore person in the jury, in the Roger Stone case, had significant bias. Add that to everything else, and this is not looking good for the “Justice” Department. @foxandfriends @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2020
What is the accusation about? Hart is a Democrat, and she previously ran for Congress. That doesn’t disqualify her from serving as a juror in Stone or any other Republican’s case, of course. But if Stone’s lawyers wanted to, they could have had her removed. They didn’t.
Now, though, some conservatives are trying to accuse Hart of lying to get on the jury, which could place her in legal jeopardy or at least be used as an excuse to overturn the jury verdict. But the evidence used to attack her does not support the claims Trump’s defenders are making.
The Daily Caller, for instance, ran a story claiming that Hart said “she did not ‘pay that close attention’ to developments in the Russia investigation,” but that “social media posts show that she was closely tuned in to the Russia probe.”
This second claim, however, is completely false. The Daily Caller story lists only three different tweets since 2017 in which Hart mentioned anything related to the Russia probe — hardly evidence that she was “closely tuned in.” There were often multiple breaking stories within a single week during this time period about the scandal.
Hart also sent an additional retweet of CNN contributor Bakari Sellers that was related to Roger Stone, but it was using his arrest to make a broader point about police misconduct toward people of color.
It is possible she followed the Russia probe more than she let on, but the Daily Caller’s evidence for this claim did not support it. It was a lie.
In a similar case, right-wing commentator Mike Cernovich — who has hosted the conpsiracy-spouting show InfoWars — claimed Hart “testified that she had no recollection of who Roger Stone was.” He then pointed to the same retweet mentioned above, implying that she had lied.
It’s far from clear a single retweet would establish that she knew about Stone if she said she didn’t. But in fact, Cernovich was blatantly lying, too. In her reported comments to the court, Hart said of Stone: “So I recall just hearing about him being part of the campaign and some belief or reporting around interaction with the Russian probe and interaction with him and people in the country, but I don’t have a whole lot of details.” That’s entirely consistent with all the known evidence.
Some may think it should be de facto illegitimate that a former Democratic candidate should be on the jury at all. But Stone’s lawyers had the ability to try to get her removed if they wanted. And there’s no indication that they took it. This also undermines Trump’s claim that any revelation about Hart would discredit the Justice Department — if anything, it would discredit Stone’s lawyers.
What this amounts to is, like so many other Trump-related vendettas, targeting of individuals solely based on the role they played, not on any actual evidence of wrongdoing. Like the whistleblower and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Hart did something that Trump fans didn’t like — so she must be smeared and torn down. Facts and evidence, at this point, are irrelevant.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.