Donald Trump's longtime ally Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to 40 months in prison for impeding a congressional investigation, in a case that ignited a firestorm over the US president's political interference in the justice system.
Stone, a veteran Republican operative and one of the president's oldest confidants, was convicted in November of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to cheat in the 2016 election.
"The truth still matters," said US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson as she handed down the sentence to Stone, who will remain free while his request for a new trial is considered.
"Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy."
Trump said soon after he believed Stone had a "very good chance" of being cleared in the long run, accusing the jury without evidence of being "tainted."
The president controversially commuted the sentences this week of nearly a dozen criminals with links to his friends and political allies -- including a corrupt politician and a tax fraud police chief.
But he ruled out immediately issuing a Stone the pardon many had been expecting.
"I'm going to let this process play out," he said at an event in Las Vegas. "At some point I'll make a determination... We're waiting."