Former political adviser and longtime friend to President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, celebrated the news of his commutation Friday night to the cheers of his supporters, saying that the president “saved my life,” and gave him “an opportunity to fight for vindication.”
“Just a few minutes ago I had a very gracious call from the president of the United States, who told me that he had decided to use his extraordinary powers of clemency to commute my sentence — what he called a ‘full commutation of my sentence,'” Stone told reporters outside of his Florida home late Friday, according to ABC News. He added that although he had not seen the papers yet, he believed that under the terms of a commutation he would be able to pursue two appeals he had filed regarding his conviction.
The longtime ally of the president welcomed the occasion with a black and white “Free Roger Stone!” face mask and a “Roger Stone Still Did Nothing Wrong!” T-shirt.
Stone, who was recently denied a request to delay serving his sentence citing health concerns due to the risk of coronavirus infection in the close quarters of prison, expressed relief and his confidence in winning on appeal.
“I believe I will expose an enormous amount of corruption in my trial on appeal, but I have to live long enough to get to the appeal,” Stone said. “And at 67 years old with a history of respiratory problems and other underlying health issues, the danger was very real.”
On Friday, the White House condemned the “unjust sentence of Roger Stone” in a statement announcing the president’s decision to grant his friend clemency. The statement painted Stone as “a victim of the Russia Hoax” that Democrats and the media “perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”
Stone’s lawyer Grant Smith told ABC News in a statement that Stone was “incredibly honored” that Trump used “his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy.”
The commutation was the latest move by the Trump administration to twist the justice system and provide favors to the president’s convicted allies – and more specifically those who remain loyal to the very end. Ahead of the news on Friday NBC’s Howard Fineman said that in a talk with Stone a commutation was preferable to a pardon – and that he anticipated Trump would deliver since Stone had not caved under
“enormous pressure to turn on [Trump].”
Just had a long talk with #RogerStone. He says he doesn’t want a pardon (which implies guilt) but a commutation, and says he thinks #Trump will give it to him. “He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.”
— howardfineman (@howardfineman) July 10, 2020
Stone came under scrutiny during Robert Mueller’s Russia probe into foreign meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted of lying to Congress on several issues central to the investigation, including communications he had with Trump campaign to discuss WikiLeaks’ documents that could damage Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
In February, Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison after he was found guilty of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress. Stone’s 40-month sentence was already far shorter than an original sentence of up to nine years that was recommended by federal prosecutors before Attorney General William Barr stepped in to undercut the recommendation after the president criticized the sentence as too harsh. Stone was expected to report to prison on July 14.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) rebuked Trump’s use of executive power to rescue”criminal friends” from prison time, suggesting that the move undermined the rule of law.
“With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else,” Schiff said in a statement obtained by The New York Times. Schiff added that Trump, Barr, and “all those who enable them pose the gravest of threats to the rule of law.”