Trump Commutes Former Adviser Roger Stone’s Sentence

Trump Commutes Former Adviser Roger Stone’s Sentence
Former advisor to President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, in Washington, on February 20, 2020. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

President Donald Trump has commuted Roger Stone’s sentence, the White House confirmed late Friday.

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” read the White House statement announcing an Executive Grant of Clemency for Stone. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”

Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence comes “in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial,” the statement added.

“The president told me that he had decided, in an act of clemency, to issue a full commutation of my sentence, and he urged me to vigorously pursue my appeal and my vindication,” Stone told The Associated Press by phone from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he was celebrating with friends. He added that he had to change rooms because there were “too many people opening bottles of Champagne here.”

Roger Stone reacts after Trump commuted his federal prison sentence, outside his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 10, 2020. (Reuters/Joe Skipper/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Roger Stone reacts after Trump commuted his federal prison sentence, outside his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 10, 2020. (Reuters/Joe Skipper/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Stone, a former political adviser to Trump, was required to report to prison on July 14 at a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia. Stone on July 7 filed an emergency request asking an appeals court to allow him to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons custody on Sept. 3, but late on Friday, the court denied Stone’s request for a delay in reporting to prison.

Stone was sentenced on Feb. 20 to three years and four months in prison, having been convicted in November 2019 on all seven counts he was charged with in relation to an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The charges included obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress.

While a commutation would not wipe out the felony convictions as a pardon does, it would protect Stone from serving prison time.

Prior to the latest convictions, the 67-year-old had never been convicted of another crime.

Attorney General William Barr said on July 8 that he thought the 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.

Stone had previously said on social media that he was determined to pursue every option in the legal system so “the American people see all of the false claims in [the judge’s] most recent ruling and I want the president to know that I have, in good faith, exhausted all of my legal remedies and that an only an act of clemency by the Presideny [sic] will provide Justice in my case.”

Stone is among several Trump associates who faced charges as a result of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

‘Victim of Russia Hoax’: White House

The White House in its statement said that Stone was “a victim of the Russia Hoax” that had been perpetuated for years by “the Left and its allies in the media” in efforts to undermine the Trump Presidency.

According to the White House, the Trump Campaign or the Trump administration never colluded with Russia, but the “collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations” that sought “evidence that did not exist.”

“As it became clear that these witch hunts would never bear fruit, the Special Counsel’s Office resorted to process-based charges leveled at high-profile people in an attempt to manufacture the false impression of criminality lurking below the surface,” the White House statement continued. “These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice.”

As such, the same prosecutors from the Mueller Investigation targeted Stone, the White House said. Because no evidence of collusion with Russia exists, the prosecutors “could not charge him for any collusion-related crime. Instead, they charged him for his conduct during their investigation,” it adds.

“The simple fact is that if the Special Counsel had not been pursuing an absolutely baseless investigation, Mr. Stone would not be facing time in prison.”

Then-special counsel Mueller took over the FBI’s investigation in May 2017 into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Mueller’s report in 2019 stated that while Russia did attempt to interfere in the election, there was no evidence to establish that either Trump or any U.S. citizen knowingly colluded with Russia ahead of the election.

The White House in its statement also raised “serious questions” regarding the jury in Stone’s case, noting how a woman who identified herself as the foreperson of the jury had “concealed the fact that she is a member of the so-called liberal ’resistance' to the Trump Presidency.”

Media reports earlier this year found that the woman, Tomeka Hart, had previously posted critical posts about Trump on social media, and defended four prosecutors who withdrew from the case following the Justice Department’s decision to revise the sentencing recommendation.
Stone earlier this year appealed all seven convictions and sought a new trial.

“He maintains his innocence and has stated that he expects to be fully exonerated by the justice system,” the White House said. “Mr. Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts. The President does not wish to interfere with his efforts to do so.”

Janita Kan contributed to this report.