Roger Stone’s friends have his back — or at least former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo does.
The longtime friend of Stone confirmed to CNN Wednesday that the “Pardon Roger Stone” group was organized to gather signatures in favor of his pardon, fundraise for Stone and his family, and to open up discussions between the White House and Stone’s associates regarding clemency.
“We’re raising money, raising awareness and assuring the White House that we stand by for contact when, and if, they’re ready,” Caputo, the leader of the group, told CNN.
Stone was convicted last year on all seven counts against him, including obstruction, five counts of false statements and witness tampering during the Russia probe.
According to CNN, Caputo has yet to contact the White House or the Justice Department about a Stone pardon. However, Caputo said that the new group, which is the latest effort in a public and private lobbying campaign to push for Stone’s pardon, has arranged a committee to meet with White House officials if it’s interested.
“The path is fraught with peril: peril for Roger, peril for the President and peril for us,” Caputo told CNN. “It’s a tightrope walk for all of us.”
Earlier Wednesday, Trump told reporters at the White House that Stone “was treated horribly” when prosecutors initially recommended to a federal judge that he serve seven to nine years in prison. After calling Stone’s prison sentence a “disgrace,” Trump declined to give a straightforward answer when asked if he’s considering a pardon for Stone, saying that “people were hurt, viciously and badly by these corrupt people.”
Trump’s latest remarks came a day after the Justice Department filed a new lighter sentencing recommendation for Stone, saying that the original recommended sentence of 7-9 years was “excessive and unwarranted.”
In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr for “taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should not have even been brought” and baselessly claimed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was “improperly brought and tainted” — which seemed to bolster an NBC News report Tuesday evening that Barr intervened in Stone’s case.