President Donald Trump said on Friday he was considering a pardon for Roger Stone, who is set to report to prison next week, saying that his longtime associate and former adviser had been treated “unfairly.”
“I’ll be looking at it,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House when asked whether he would pardon Stone. “I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated, as were many people.”
“And in the meantime, [former FBI Director James] Comey and all these guys are walking around, including Biden and Obama, because we caught them spying on my campaign. Who would have believed that one?” he added.
Trump had on a number of occasions fueled speculation that he may pardon or commute the sentence for his longtime associate. He had previously shared a tweet posted by social and political commentator Lori Hendry saying, “IT’S TIME TO #PardonRogerStone.”
The U.S. Constitution grants the president power of executive clemency which allows him to pardon sentences for federal criminal convictions or grant clemency in the form of a commutation of sentence, remission of a fine or restitution, and a reprieve. A presidential pardon sets aside the punishment for a federal conviction, while a commutation of a sentence could reduce a sentence either totally or partially.
Interest over whether the president would pardon Stone grew in recent weeks after a district court judge ordered Stone to report to prison on July 14. Stone has been exhausting his legal options to delay his sentence amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, saying that starting the sentence at a time when the pandemic hasn’t fully abated would be a risk to his health due to his age and undisclosed existing medical condition.
Stone filed an emergency request on Tuesday asking an appeals court to block the district court ruling and allow him to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons custody on Sept. 3.
In a court filing on Thursday, the Justice Department (DOJ) said that although they did not oppose Stone’s request to push back the date of his self-surrender, it supported a district court’s decision to require Stone to report to prison next week.
“[T]he district court’s independent decision to extend appellant’s self-surrender date for 14 days is a reasonable exercise of that court’s discretion based on the totality of the factual and legal circumstances, particularly given appellant’s failure to satisfy the statutory requirements for his continued release pending appeal,” DOJ lawyers wrote in their filing.
Attorney General William Barr said on Wednesday that he thought the judge’s sentencing of Stone was appropriate.
“I think the prosecution was righteous and I think the sentence the judge ultimately gave was fair,” Barr told ABC News in an interview.
Barr also weighed in on the speculation that Trump might intervene in the case, saying that it was the “the president’s prerogative.”
“It’s a unique power that the president has. And it’s certainly something that is committed to his judgment. But as I say, I felt it was an appropriate prosecution and I thought the sentence was fair,” he said.
Stone was sentenced on Feb. 20 to three years and four months in prison. He was convicted in November 2019 on all seven counts he was charged with, including obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress.