Donald Trump has commuted the sentence of his longtime confidant and former adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted in November on seven charges including lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing an investigation into whether the Trump campaign worked with Russia to tip the 2016 election.
The White House press secretary’s office released a lengthy statement defending Trump’s decision on Friday evening.
“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,” it read. “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.”
With his clemency granted, Stone is now seeking a new trial.
“He maintains his innocence and has stated that he expects to be fully exonerated by the justice system,” the White House statement 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.”
Following the president’s action, senator and former Democratic Party nominee Elizabeth Warren said Trump “has abandoned the rule of law and made a mockery of our democracy,” adding: “He truly is the most corrupt president in history.”
Stone, a GOP operative and an adviser to Trump during the presidential campaign, was sentenced to 40 months earlier this year despite ongoing efforts by the president and attorney general William Barr to stymie the court. He was scheduled to report to a federal prison in Georgia in a matter of days.
In early February, the Department of Justice walked back federal prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation immediately following a Trump tirade about the case on Twitter.
Shortly thereafter, the entire prosecution team resigned. One...