Well, at least that is what the instruction sounded like to me from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson who told the jury not to watch or rent or download the movie The Godfather. It reminded me of that old cartoon showing a jury in cataclysmic shock with the judge saying “the jury will disregard the witness’s last remark.” The instruction seemed to highlight the movie and its connection to longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.
Jackson has an excellent reputation and had extensive experience before taking the bench. She also made the correct ruling in barring the Justice Department from playing the movie because Stone makes reference to it in conversations with potential witnesses. It was a ridiculous and potentially abusive move by the prosecutors. Stone allegedly told radio host and comedian Randy Credico not to cooperate with investigators, urging him to “do a Frank Pentangeli.” In “The Godfather: Part II”, Pentangeli kills himself after being pressured to lie to a congressional committee.
The cure may be worse than the ailment. Jackson told the jury “Don’t download ‘The Godfather’ on Netflix.” It could not highlight the connection more. The fact is that this was an analogy by Stone and a fairly common one. That is why it was absurd for the prosecutors to seek to play the movie. However, by barring the jury from even viewing the movie makes it sound that the film is closely linked to Stone, 67.
The strangest aspect is that Stone’s lawyer, Bruce Rogow, already addressed the reference and dismissed it. Yet, suddenly it is something for the jurors to think about — that film that shall not be watched. For the defense, it must be something like Michael Corleone’s feeling in Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
Credico is expected to continue testifying Friday. Other witnesses set to be called in the case are former Trump campaign chief Steve Bannon and former campaign deputy Rick Gates, who prosecutors say each had numerous conversations with Stone.