- President Donald Trump’s decision on Friday to commute the sentence of former Republican strategist Roger Stone sparked outrage across top lawmakers.
- The negative reaction wasn’t entirely partisan, as Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, called Trump’s actions “unprecedented, historic corruption.”
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi similarly said the president committed an “act of staggering corruption” and called on the House to pass legislation to prevent such actions in the future.
- Stone was convicted by a jury in November on seven counts related to false statements to the FBI, to congressional investigators, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Prominent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Saturday expressed outrage over President Donald Trump’s Friday commutation of the sentence of former Republican strategist Roger Stone. In a statement on commuting Stone’s sentence days before he was slated to report to a federal prison in Georgia, the president said that Stone’s conviction on seven counts stemmed from “the Russia Hoax.”
While the decision sparked outrage mostly from Democrats, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, blasted the move by the leader of his party.
“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Romney tweeted Saturday.
Romney has long been a critic of Trump and was the only Republican senator to vote to remove the president from office during his ill-fated impeachment trial in the Senate earlier this year.
As Business Insider previously reported, a jury last November convicted Stone of seven felony counts, including 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 judge sentenced stone to 40 months in prison, a $US20,000 fine, four years of probation after his prison term, and 250 hours of community service.
Romney joined top Democrats in expressing anger over Stone’s commutation
California Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris, who is reportedly on former Vice President Joe Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate, used the news to draw attention to what she called the “two systems of justice in this country.”
Trump commutes the prison sentence of Roger Stone while the officers that killed Breonna Taylor are still free. The two systems of justice in this country must end.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 11, 2020
“Trump commutes the prison sentence of Roger Stone while the officers that killed Breonna Taylor are still free. The two systems of justice in this country must end,” Harris tweeted.
Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician from Louisville, Kentucky, was killed in her home earlier this year by police officers executing a no-knock warrant. Calls to arrest the police officers involved in her death have been a rallying cry amid Black Lives Matter activists.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat from California, called Trump’s move an “act of staggering corruption” in a Saturday morning statement that called on the passage of legislation to prevent similar acts in the future.
“Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing,” Pelosi said in a Saturday statement. “Legislation is needed to ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution.”
“Roger Stone’s seven felony crimes, which include lying to Congress and witness tampering, constitute grave crimes. All who commit these illegal acts should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Pelosi added.
Trump doubled down on his decision in a Saturday morning tweet, claiming Stone had been “targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place.”
While Trump has repeatedly called the investigation into Russian interference a “hoax,” the investigation which began in 2016 resulted in indictments against 34 individuals and three Russian entities, as Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth noted.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who led the House’s impeachment proceedings last year, similarly criticised the president’s Friday night decision during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Saturday.
“There are now two standards of justice in America, one for the criminal cronies of Donald Trump and one for everyone else.”@RepAdamSchiff weighs in on President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone. pic.twitter.com/NYpYT0Bh2l
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 11, 2020
“If you lie for the president, if you cover up for the president, if you withhold incriminating evidence for the president – you get a pass from Donald Trump,” he said.
He added: “There are now two standards of justice in America, one for the criminal cronies of Donald Trump and one for everyone else, so I think it’s entirely destructive of the justice system and the rule of law.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also criticised Stone’s commutation, saying the “American ideal of equal justice under the law is once again being undermined by a lawless president who regards the Justice Department as his personal plaything.”
“By refusing to hold President Trump accountable, the Republican Party bears responsibility for his lawlessness,” the New York Democrat added in a statement.