Double Standards on View in Outrage at Stone Commutation

July 12, 2020 Updated: July 15, 2020


A few thoughts on the adage that “if it weren’t for double standards, they would have no standards at all.”

Who’s “they”? Well, there is Mitt Romney, for example. Confronted with the news that President Donald Trump had commuted the 40-month prison sentence of his friend Roger Stone, the anti-Trump senator from Utah tweeted that the president’s actions represented, “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”

Oh, dear. That sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Then there is pastor David French. He sings in the same chorus as Mittens.

“Roger Stone’s commutation is corrupt. Full stop,” the pastor sermonized. Why? There follows a long Twitter thread whose burden is announced in the first installment.

“It’s worth remembering what he did, and why it was right and necessary to investigate the Trump campaign’s attempts to cooperate and/or collude with Russians and Russian assets to gain an advantage in the 2016 election.”

Memo to the pastor: The Trump campaign did not “cooperate and/or collude with Russians and Russian assets to gain an advantage in the 2016 election.”

Robert Mueller spent some $32 million and nearly two years turning over every rock, running down every lead, indicting every tumbler of Smirnoff they could find. Conclusion? No evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded or cooperated with any Russians in order to gain an advantage in the 2016 campaign.

Hillary Clinton

How about Hillary Clinton, though? Her campaign paid for the infamous pile of scabrous innuendo known as the Steele dossier. Where did Steele scrounge up those fantastic rumors? From shadowy Russian sources? Will wonders never cease?

It’s worth noting that Russians did intervene in the 2016 election, as they have intervened in every U.S. election since the 1920s, and just as—does this need to be pointed out?—we intervene quietly in the elections of other countries.

The Russians bought some Facebook ads and did some internet trolling. Sometimes, they favored Hillary—who, like nearly everyone else, they thought was going to win—sometimes, Trump. As far as I have been able to determine, they made campaign contributions to Trump of $0.

Even The New York Times admitted that Russia funneled millions in cash to the Clinton Foundation and to Bill Clinton directly. (When was the last time you received $500,000 for a 20-minute talk in Moscow to a Russian bank with ties to the Kremlin in the midst of an infamous deal to sell U.S. uranium interests to Russia?)

Imagine an alternate universe in which Trump had given such a talk in Moscow in order to facilitate the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium interests to a Russian front.

Bill Clinton, Barack Obama

Which brings me back to the issue of Stone and double standards. The anti-Trump fraternity claims to be shocked, shocked that the president should have commuted Stone’s prison sentence. I don’t know enough about the legal niceties to opine about the prudence of Trump’s clemency in this case.

If you are interested in that aspect of the episode, I recommend, “Trump Spares Stone from Imprisonment, Sparking Howls from Amnesiac Democrats,” Andrew McCarthy’s clear-eyed account in National ReviewSavor the opening antidote to amnesia:

“Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother for felony distribution of cocaine. And a key witness in the Whitewater scandal for which he and Hillary Clinton were under investigation. And three others convicted in independent counsel Ken Starr’s probe. And Marc Rich, in what was a straight-up political payoff. And his CIA director. And his HUD secretary. And eight people convicted in an investigation of his Agriculture Department.”

And that’s just for starters. McCarthy fills out the column with lots more where that came from, including from the pen of Barack Obama, who pardoned FALN terrorist Oscar Lopez Rivera and commuted the sentence of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, who had passed top-secret information to WikiLeaks.

Obama also pardoned his former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who had been convicted of lying to the FBI, and overturned or radically cut the sentences of hundreds of drug dealers via executive order.


Where were the Romneys and Frenchs of the world then? Where was Andrew Weissmann? If you don’t know Andrew Weissmann, you should. He is one of the most despicable actors in the whole anti-Trump Kabuki theater.

Mueller was really just Howdy Doody for the puppet master Weissmann. He was the brains and main strategist of the flood-the-zone special counsel’s Get Trump operation.

Indeed, his disgusting partisan weaponization of the law goes back a long way. It was he who destroyed Enron and its leaders, and the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson, and therefore, thousands of jobs. The Supreme Court later said his case against Arthur Anderson was all wet, but too late for those thousands of people.

Weissmann is now a vocal Biden surrogate, participating in fundraisers for him.

He, too, piled on about Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence, bizarrely suggesting that Stone should be called before the grand jury and compelled to dish some dirt on the president.

Counsellor Weissmann might want to refresh his acquaintance with the Fifth Amendment, but perhaps he thinks its protections don’t extend to supporters of Trump.

Look, Stone is an extravagant, pro-Trump political activist. He is an odd and excitable chap. The question is, are those attributes sufficient to earn you a prison sentence? He was convicted of lying to investigators. That was his chief tort.

But at the end of the day, I think that Andrew Klavan got it exactly right.

“So Roger Stone won’t go to prison for covering up a crime that never happened,” Klavan tweeted, “during an investigation that never should have begun. My outrage knows no bounds.”

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia.”

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.