Updated July 10, 2020 - 5:38 pm
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, a long-time Trump whisperer who was to have begun a 40-month prison term on Tuesday.
Stone had been convicted on seven counts of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing a House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“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. 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,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump had signaled his desire to pardon or commute Stone’s sentence even before the flamboyant GOP bad boy was convicted in November 2019. The commutation does not clear Stone’s record, but it does release Stone from having to serve time in prison.
While Stone was fired from the Trump’s campaign in 2015, he had urged Trump to run for the White House repeatedly over their decades-long friendship.
From the dawn raid of armed federal authorities at Stone’s Florida home in February 2019, Trump has hammered former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecution of his friend and his probe into Russian mischief in the 2016 campaign as a “witch hunt.”
Stone became a person of interest because he had boasted that during the campaign that he had a “back channel” to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who had published Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s purloined emails.
During his trial, Stone invited the wrath of U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who had imposed a gag order on the one-time campaign aide to Richard Nixon. After his conviction, Stone unsuccessfully pushed for a new trial.
During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Stone said that he was “praying” for clemency.
“I have deep concerns about going to a prison where there absolutely is COVID virus, and, therefore, either (a pardon or commutation) would have an effect of saving my life,” Stone said.
Even before the announcement, the group Republicans for the Rule of law posted a video denouncing the move on Twitter.