By Chuck Ross
- The lead juror at Roger Stone’s trial said in a written questionnaire that she was “not sure” whether she posted online about the Russia investigation, though her Twitter feed shows that she posted multiple stories about the probe.
- Tomeka Hart’s responses on the jury questionnaire, a portion of which was obtained by the DCNF, are at the heart of Stone’s request for a retrial. Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison last week.
- Stone alleges that Hart, a former Democratic congressional candidate, withheld information during the jury selection process regarding her views of Stone and President Trump.
The lead juror at Roger Stone’s trial said in a written questionnaire for prospective jurors that she was “not sure” whether she posted online about the Russia investigation or Stone, and that she “may have shared an article” on social media on the topics, according to a portion of the document reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
But Tomeka Hart’s Twitter feed shows that she indeed posted multiple times about the Russia probe and at least once about Stone, who was sentenced on Thursday to 40 months in prison in a case that stemmed from the special counsel’s investigation.
Stone’s lawyers filed a motion on Feb. 14 alleging that Hart’s social media activity shows that she was biased against President Donald Trump and Stone. Trump also criticized Hart during a press conference after Stone was sentenced.
Trump called Hart an “anti-Trump activist,” and suggested that she “tainted” Stone’s jury.
Hart, who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2012, commented negatively about Trump on Twitter and circulated news stories about the Russia probe. In one Aug. 2, 2019 post, she called all of Trump’s supporters racist.
Stone, 67, has been one of Trump’s most longstanding supporters, and is sometimes credited with convincing the real estate mogul to run for president.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over Stone’s case, said last Tuesday that she would decide after Stone’s sentencing whether to grant a retrial. Jackson did not comment directly on reports about Hart during Stone’s sentencing on Thursday, but did say that the jury in Stone’s case acted with “integrity.”
Jackson on Sunday rejected Stone’s request, filed Friday, that she recuse herself from the retrial decision because of her praise of the jury. Stone is arguing that Hart gave misleading answers during the jury selection process.
Jackson’s rulings suggest that Stone faces an uphill battle in getting a retrial granted. And judges are generally reluctant to toss out a jury’s verdict without strong evidence of jury or prosecutorial misconduct.
In order for a retrial to be granted, Stone will have to convince Jackson that he has met two requirements for a retrial set by the Supreme Court, according to Leslie McAdoo Gordon, a criminal defense and security clearance attorney who practices in Washington, D.C.
The Supreme Court requires defendants to show that a juror provided materially false information, and that the information, had it been known, would have been a valid basis for a request to strike the juror from the jury pool.
McAdoo Gordon said that Hart’s responses on her written jury questionnaire paired with her answers verbal interview during a process known as voir dire are enough to warrant a retrial.
“I think he could satisfy the Supreme Court’s test for requesting a new trial,” McAdoo Gordon told The DCNF.
She said that it appeared that Hart downplayed her awareness of the Russia probe in her written questionnaire. That alone would not be enough to merit a retrial, McAdoo Gordon said.
But Hart’s comments about Trump supporters and her failure to disclose those views during voir dire are enough to satisfy the Supreme Court’s requirement, according to the lawyer.
“If that information had been presented to the judge that she thought all supporters of the president were racist, the judge would have excluded her,” McAdoo Gordon said.
“She minimized her answers to the voir dire and she was not honest in answering that question about whether she could be impartial.”
Hart came under scrutiny earlier this month after she revealed herself to have been the foreperson on Stone’s jury in a social media post in which she defended four prosecutors who withdrew from the case in protest over a sentencing recommendation.
Right-wing blogger Michael Cernovich tracked down some of Hart’s social media posts which showed that she was highly critical of President Trump and his supporters.
Trump weighed in on Stone’s sentence on Thursday, and said that he will decide on whether to pardon Stone after Jackson rules on whether to have another trial.
“I want the process to play out,” Trump said at a press conference in Las Vegas. “I think that’s the best thing to do, because I’d love to see Roger exonerated, and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
In one Aug. 19, 2017 post, Hart referred to Trump as the “#KlanPresident,” an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
“Co-signing and defending a racist and his racist rhetoric makes you racist. Point blank,” she wrote on Aug. 2, 2019.
The DCNF obtained one page of Hart’s written jury questionnaire on the condition that the document not be published in full.
Hart’s responses on the questionnaire and during the voir dire process on Nov. 5 show that she acknowledged having Democratic leanings. But she also appears to have downplayed her awareness of developments in the Trump-Russia investigation.
During her voir dire interview, Hart said that her political views would “absolutely not” influence her opinion about Stone at trial, and that she “didn’t pay that close” attention the Russia investigation.
Hart and other prospective jurors filled out a 20-page, 56-question form in September 2019 during the jury selection process.
The questionnaire asked prospective jurors about their awareness of the Stone investigation, the Russia investigation, and their opinions about various people involved in the case.
The page viewed by The DCNF includes questions 21, 22, and 23 about Hart’s social media activity and awareness of news coverage about the Russia investigation.
In response to a question about whether she watches the news, Hart said “not regularly” but said that she followed CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes.
Hart offered a vague response regarding her awareness of the multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
One question asked Hart whether she had written or posted anything regarding Stone, or the special counsel and House Intelligence Committee’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“I can’t remember if I did,” wrote Hart, who was identified as Juror 1261, “but I may have shared an article on Facebook.”
“Honestly not sure.”
Hart’s Twitter feed shows that she made far more than the single social media post that she indicated making in her jury questionnaire.
On Jan. 30, 2019, she retweeted a comment from CNN contributor Bakari Sellers criticizing conservatives who decried the circumstances of Stone’s arrest days earlier. Sellers admonished conservatives for complaining about Stone’s arrest by pointing to several high-profile cases of African-Americans who were killed by police.
Hart referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in several posts, and appeared to support the notion that Trump associates colluded with Russia.
“Fox News keeps pushing excuses for Trump Jr.’s collusion with Russia that are just really, really bad,” reads a tweet she reposted on July 14, 2017.
In a May 29, 2019 tweet of an article at The Hill, Hart emphasized remarks that Mueller made at a press conference he held that same day.
“After that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Hart quoted Mueller saying.
She also commented about the special counsel’s investigation on Facebook, though the post has now been deleted. She linked to the post in a March 24, 2019 tweet.
“Ignoring the numerous indictments, guilty pleas, and convictions of people in 45’s inner-circle, some Republicans are asserting that the Mueller investigation was a waste of time because he hasn’t found evidence of…,” the tweet begins.
In a Feb. 28, 2019 tweet linking to a now-deleted Facebook post, Hart wrote: “In his press conference 45 said M Cohen lied a lot during his testimony, but told the truth when he said he had no knowledge/evidence that 45 colluded with Russia. Then 45 said since Cohen lied about everything…”
It is still unclear if Stone’s legal team was aware of Hart’s social media activity before selecting a jury.
Grant Smith, Stone’s lead attorney, declined to talk about the case. Stone and his lawyers remain under a gag order issued by Judge Jackson.
Hart did not respond to an email seeking comment.
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