- President Donald Trump is widely expected to pardon the longtime former Republican strategist Roger Stone, CNN reported.
- In an interview with the talk radio host Howie Carr this week, Trump complained about Stone’s alleged mistreatment by prosecutors, saying he was “framed” and “treated horrible.”
- When Carr told Trump that Stone was “praying” for a pardon before having to report to prison on July 14, Trump answered, “If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered. Let’s see what happens.”
- Stone acted as an informal adviser to the Trump 2016 campaign and was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison in February after being convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering.
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President Donald Trump may be on the brink of pardoning or commuting the sentence of Roger Stone, the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an informal adviser on the Trump campaign, CNN reported on Thursday.
Citing half a dozen sources close to the president, the outlet reported that Trump is widely expected to grant clemency to Stone.
A jury convicted the former strategist of seven felony counts in November: five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstruction of justice.
Earlier this year, a federal judge sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison for his crimes, as well as a $US20,000 fine, four years of probation after his prison term, and 250 hours of community service.
In an interview with the talk radio host Howie Carr this week, Trump complained about Stone’s alleged mistreatment by prosecutors, saying he was “framed” and “treated horrible.” He also praised Stone’s character, saying the former strategist and self-described dirty trickster was a “good person.”
“He was treated so badly,” the president added. When Carr told Trump that Stone was “praying” for a pardon before having to report to prison on July 14, Trump answered, “If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered. Let’s see what happens.”
The charges against Stone were linked to his contacts with the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks and subsequent efforts to suppress witness testimony.
Stone’s indictment from the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s office contained a slew of details about his false statements to Congress about interactions involving WikiLeaks; his extensive communications with the far-right commentator Jerome Corsi and the radio host Randy Credico about WikiLeaks’ document dumps in summer 2016; and his prolonged efforts to prevent Credico from testifying to Congress or turning over information to the FBI.
Trump frequently excoriates the Justice Department and prosecutors working on Stone’s case for treating him too harshly.
The four career prosecutors involved in Stone’s case initially recommended a sentence of seven to nine years based on federal sentencing guidelines.
But after Trump publicly complained on Twitter in February, calling the recommendation “horrible” and “unfair,” senior DOJ leadership announced that they would reverse the initial recommendation, which they called “excessive and unwarranted,” and request a lighter sentence for Stone.
The highly unusual intervention prompted all the prosecutors on Stone’s case to either withdraw from the case or resign from the DOJ altogether. One of the prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, testified to Congress last month that DOJ leaders sought a weaker sentence for Stone at the direction of Attorney General William Barr because they were “afraid of the president.”
Barr, meanwhile, told ABC News after senior officials overrode the prosecutors that he had already decided to request a lighter sentence for Stone before Trump tweeted, but he said the president’s constant public comments made it “impossible” for him to do his job.
Still, the timing of the DOJ’s announcement raised questions and rankled former officials who accused the attorney general of catering to the president’s public demands and allowing Trump to weaponize the DOJ for political purposes.
After US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson announced Stone’s sentence, Trump hinted at the possibility of a pardon a few hours later.
“I’m following this very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion,” the president said at the “Hope for Prisoners” graduation ceremony in Las Vegas.
“I’d love to see it happen,” he added, and went on to baselessly accuse a juror in Stone’s case of being “totally tainted” and an “anti-Trump activist.”
But Trump stopped short of promising a pardon, saying, “I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do.”