Trump Commutes Sentence Of Roger Stone, Prompting Allegations Of ‘Abuse Of Power’
President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant and ally Roger Stone on seven felony counts of obstructing a congressional investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
In a statement released Friday night, the White House argued that Stone was “a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”
The White House did not argue that Stone was innocent, but rather his conviction stemmed from “overzealous prosecutors pursing a case that never should have existed.”
The statement also underscored former special counsel Robert Mueller‘s failure to find any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and highlighted Stone’s “medical risk.”
“Mr. Stone would be put at serious medical risk in prison,” the statement reads. “He has appealed his conviction and is seeking a new trial. He maintains his innocence and has stated that he expects to be fully exonerated by the justice system. Mr. Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts.”
The commutation comes days before Stone was scheduled to report to federal prison to begin his 40-month term.
Shortly before the announcement, NBC News Analyst Howard Fineman tweeted that he had just spoken to Stone, who told him he easily could have turned on Trump.
“He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t,” Stone told Fineman.
Just had a long talk with #RogerStone. He says he doesn’t want a pardon (which implies guilt) but a commutation, and says he thinks #Trump will give it to him. “He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.”
— howardfineman (@howardfineman) July 10, 2020
Grant Smith, a lawyer for Stone, said after that commutation was announced that Stone “is incredibly honored that President Trump used his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy.”
Stone was convicted of lying under oath, withholding documents and threatening a witness. However, he has continued to maintain his innocence, claiming the documents the prosecutors sought never existed.
His original sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years had already been reduced to 40 months after Trump and Stone’s allies argued he was being treated unfairly.
In February, Trump tweeted that jury forewoman in the Stone case “was totally biased, as [was] the judge.”
“Roger wasn’t even working on my campaign,” Trump wrote. “Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!”
There has rarely been a juror so tainted as the forewoman in the Roger Stone case. Look at her background. She never revealed her hatred of “Trump” and Stone. She was totally biased, as is the judge. Roger wasn’t even working on my campaign. Miscarriage of justice. Sad to watch!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2020
Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) lambasted the move, labeling it an “abuse of power.”
“Roger Stone is a criminal who protected Trump and had his sentence commuted because of it,” Booker tweeted. “This is yet another example of the blatant corruption & abuse of power that pervades this administration. There should not be two justice systems in the U.S.—we can and we must do better.”
Roger Stone is a criminal who protected Trump and had his sentence commuted because of it. This is yet another example of the blatant corruption & abuse of power that pervades this administration.
There should not be two justice systems in the U.S.—we can and we must do better.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 11, 2020
Sen. Amy Klobuchar called on Americans to vote come November, writing that “this President will do anything and everything to flaunt the law.”
“The only way to stop this is by voting in November,” she said. “Trump commutes sentence of confidant Roger Stone. He was set to go to prison July 14 for lying to Congress.”
Presidential candidate Joe Biden echoed Klobuchar’s message, saying in a statement from his campaign that Trump “will only be stopped when Americans make their voice heard at the ballot box this fall.”
— Sarah Mucha CNN (@sarahmucha) July 11, 2020
“President Trump has once again abused his power, releasing this commutation on a Friday night, hoping to yet again avoid scrutiny as he lays waste to the norms and the values that make our country a shining beacon to the rest of the world,” Biden’s campaign said.