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Trump Commutes Sentence of Convicted Felon Who ‘Lied’ Because the ‘Truth Looked Bad’ for the President


UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: The Associated Press reported that the White House, calling Stone the victim of a “hoax,” confirmed President Trump commuted Roger Stone’s sentence.

Stone was a “victim of the Russia Hoax” perpetuated by “the Left and its allies in the media,” according to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“Not only was Mr. Stone charged by overzealous prosecutors pursing a case that never should have existed, and arrested in an operation that never should have been approved, but there were also serious questions about the jury in the case,” McEnany added.

“The president told me he thought my trial has been unfair,” Stone said, referencing his Friday phone call with the president.

The statement from the White House:

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr.

Roger Stone is 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.  There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.  Such collusion was never anything other than a fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election.  The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for 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.  These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice.This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr. Stone.  Roger Stone is well known for his nearly 50 years of work as a consultant for high-profile Republican politicians, including President Ronald Reagan, Senator Bob Dole, and many others.  He is also well known for his outspoken support for President Donald J. Trump and opposition to Hillary Clinton. Mr. Stone was charged by the same prosecutors from the Mueller Investigation tasked with finding evidence of collusion with Russia. Because no such evidence exists, however, they could not charge him for any collusion-related crime.  Instead, they charged him for his conduct during their investigation.  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.

In addition to charging Mr. Stone with alleged crimes arising solely from their own improper investigation, the Mueller prosecutors also took pains to make a public and shameful spectacle of his arrest.  Mr. Stone is a 67-year-old man, with numerous medical conditions, who had never been convicted of another crime.  But rather than allow him to surrender himself, they used dozens of FBI agents with automatic weapons and tactical equipment, armored vehicles, and an amphibious unit to execute a pre-dawn raid of his home, where he was with his wife of many years.  Notably, CNN cameras were present to broadcast these events live to the world, even though they swore they were not notified—it was just a coincidence that they were there together with the FBI early in the morning.

Not only was Mr. Stone charged by overzealous prosecutors pursing a case that never should have existed, and arrested in an operation that never should have been approved, but there were also serious questions about the jury in the case.  The forewoman of his jury, for example, concealed the fact that she is a member of the so-called liberal “resistance” to the Trump Presidency. In now-deleted tweets, this activist-juror vividly and openly attacked President Trump and his supporters.

Mr. Stone would be put at serious medical risk in prison. 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 President does not wish to interfere with his efforts to do so.  At this time, however, and particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the President has determined to commute his sentence. Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case.  Roger Stone is now a free man!

Prosecutors said he lied to protect the president, a jury found him guilty of all charges, and the Attorney General of the United States said the prosecution was a “righteous” one. Now President Donald Trump is reportedly expected to say (and soon): Get me Roger Stone … a commutation.

The 67-year-old “dirty trickster,” ratfucker extraordinaire, and longtime friend-cum-adviser to the president explicitly asked for either a pardon or a commutation on Tuesday, July 7.

“I want the president to know that I have exhausted all my legal remedies and that only an act of clemency will provide justice in my case and save my life!” Stone said in a text message.

Here’s what the DOJ has to say about commutations, in general: “The power to commute a sentence for a federal offense is vested in the President alone. It is an extraordinary remedy that is very rarely granted.”

Stone was convicted in Nov. 2019 on charges obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress regarding his contacts with WikiLeaks in the lead up to the 2016 election. Federal prosecutors said that Stone lied to Congress to protect the president.

“Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad,” said then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Zelinsky, formerly a member of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s Office. “The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.”

Stone said Friday that Trump “knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him.”

In the past, Trump said it was “[n]ice to know” that “some people” (Stone) still have the “guts” not to make up lies about him.

Turning on Trump “would have eased my situation considerably,” Stone added on Friday. “But I didn’t.” Some of the president’s most outspoken critics immediately interpreted Stone’s words in the worst possible light.

Stone maintains that he was the victim of a “witch hunt.” He told Fox News that he would use a commutation to vindicate himself.

“If I should be fortunate enough to get a commutation, I would continue to fight for vindication,” he said. Stone’s lawyers have repeatedly hammered the jury foreperson and trial judge Amy Berman Jackson, claiming political bias sealed their client’s fate. In April, Judge Jackson rejected their bid for a new trial.

Zelinsky and three other prosecutors famously quit the Stone case in February after Department of Justice higher-ups intervened in sentencing recommendations. Zelinsky, styled by House Democrats as a whistleblower, testified on Capitol Hill in June.

“In the many cases I have been privileged to work on in my career, I have never seen political influence play any role in prosecutorial decision making. With one exception: United States v. Roger Stone,” he said.

The intervention in the Stone case prompted widespread outrage among former DOJ officials. The uproar prompted Attorney General Bill Barr to do a damage control sit-down interview with ABC News, during which Barr said he believed the Stone prosecution was a “righteous” one.

“Well, as you know, the Stone case was prosecuted while I was attorney general. And I supported it. I think it was established, he was convicted of obstructing Congress and witness tampering. And I thought that was a righteous prosecution,” Barr said.

Indeed, even Attorney General Barr, who is overseeing an investigation of the Russiagate investigators and who has supported the undoing of the Michael Flynn prosecution, said publicly that he was “happy that [Stone] was convicted.”

The commutation comes after last-ditch filings from Stone’s lawyers, who asked for a delay to the start of Stone’s 40-month prison sentence. The prison reporting date had been set for July 14.

President Trump, for some time, hinted at a possible Stone pardon, even going so far as to say Stone could “sleep well at night.”

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.