A federal judge yesterday sentenced President Donald Trump's long-time adviser Roger Stone to three years and four months in prison and said his lies to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election amounted to a threat to American democracy.
In a stern lecture during a two-and-a-half-hour sentencing hearing for the veteran Republican operative, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson also delivered an implicit rebuke to Mr Trump, who has attacked her along with the jury and prosecutors in the high-profile case.
"There was nothing unfair, phony or disgraceful about the investigation or the prosecution," Ms Jackson said, citing words that the Republican president has used.
Stone's lawyer had asked that he get no prison time. The 67-year-old Stone, who has been a friend and adviser to Mr Trump for decades, was convicted on November 15 on all seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.
"He was not prosecuted - as some have complained - for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president," Ms Jackson said.
"The truth still exists. The truth still matters.
"Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our fundamental institutions - to the very foundation of our democracy."
The judge also said Stone "knew exactly what he was doing" when he posted an image on social media last year that positioned a gun's cross-hairs over her head.
"The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct toward the court," Ms Jackson said. "This is intolerable to the administration of justice."
Stone, who still has a sealed pending motion requesting a new trial, declined to speak at the hearing. Clad in a dark grey pinstripe suit with a polka-dot handkerchief in the pocket, Stone stood at a lectern as the judge announced the sentence.
After leaving, Stone told reporters: "I have nothing to say."
In a chaotic scene outside the courthouse, Stone walked through a throng of people with a slight smile on his face and climbed into a waiting vehicle.
Mr Trump has stoked speculation he may pardon Stone. A prominent Trump ally, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, wrote on Twitter after the sentencing that the president has "all the authority in the world" to review the case.
Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, who now heads the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee to which Stone was convicted of lying, wrote on Twitter: "It should go without saying, but to pardon Stone when his crimes were committed to protect Trump would be a breathtaking act of corruption."
The White House had no immediate reaction.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump granted clemency to prominent convicted white-collar criminals including financier Michael Milken and former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.
Ms Jackson's sentence fell well short of the seven to nine years that were initially recommended by the original prosecutors in the case before they were overruled by the Justice Department after Mr Trump complained publicly. Those prosecutors quit the case.