Roger Stone — President Donald Trump’s friend who was sentenced in February to more than three years in federal prison for obstructing investigations into Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election — won’t be reporting to prison next week after Trump commuted his sentence on Friday.
In a statement, the White House said Trump “signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr.” The order said Stone was “a victim of the Russian Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years.”
The investigation was brought on by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation led to Trump’s impeachment late last year. In November, a federal jury found Stone guilty of witness tampering, obstruction and lying to Congress related to his efforts in acquiring Russian-hacked emails intended to damage the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee who was running against Trump.
The move came quickly after a federal appeals court panel turned down an effort by Stone to delay an order that he report to federal prison in Jesup, Ga. on July 14th.
While it seemed as though Stone was on his way to prison, Trump hinted last month in a tweet that Stone "can sleep well" knowing that he was the victim of a "Witch Hunt." His commutation continues a series of decisions by Trump to undermine the U.S. Justice Department's investigations into close aides of the president. In May, the Justice Department dropped charges against former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was caught lying to FBI investigators. Late last month Geoffrey S. Berman was fired from his post as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Berman had been investigating former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani
Stone’s life as a political operative stretches all the way back to President Richard Nixon’s administration (he even has a tattoo of Nixon on his back). Stone credits himself as the mastermind behind the downfall of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned after admitting he cheated on his wife in 2008.
The news stoked the ire of Democrats, with New York Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler--who was chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which issued articles of impeachment against Trump--and issuing a joint statement on Friday saying Trump's commutation of Stone's sentencing "undermines the rule of law."
“By this action, President Trump abused the powers of his office in an apparent effort to reward Roger Stone for his refusal to cooperate with investigators examining the President’s own conduct. No other president has exercised the clemency power for such a patently personal and self-serving purpose," read the statement.