Donald Trump commutes Roger Stones sentence days before prison term set to begin

On Friday, the US Court of Appeals denied Stone’s request to delay his sentencing, ruling that Stone is “not legally eligible for further postponement of his reporting date”.

The president’s order also defies his own Justice Department’s support for Stone’s sentencing, writing that his prison term is “a reasonable exercise of that court’s discretion based on the totality of the factual and legal circumstances”. He was due to report to prison on 14 July.

But the president publicly teased for months that he was considering intervening in his friend’s case. On Friday, he said he was “looking at” a pardon for his former adviser. But Stone had argued that he would rather be commuted, which would not expunge his convictions, because he believed he had not committed any crime to have received a pardon for, according to reports.

“I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated, as were many people,” the president said. “And, in the meantime former FBI Director James Comey and all these guys are walking around, including Joe Biden and Barack Obama.”

Donald Trump has granted clemency to Roger Stone, who was found guilty of lying to Congress and intimidating witnesses during an investigation into election interference, according to the White House.

The longtime Republican operative was convicted in November on seven counts alleging that he lied to lawmakers about communicating with WikiLeaks, tampered with witnesses and obstructed a House intelligence committee investigation into the president’s 2016 campaign.

In a lengthy White House statement, the press secretary’s office claimed Stone is a “victim of the Russia hoax” and that evidence of collusion was only a “fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election”.

His prosecution was the result of “recklessness borne of frustration and malice”, the statement said.

The president has amplified his unproven “Obamagate” conspiracy alleging that his predecessor spied on his campaign in 2016 while dismissing federal investigations that led to several indictments and prison sentences for his former campaign aides. Prosecutors argued that Stone had threatened a witness and lied under oath to protect the president, and a jury agreed.

Mr Trump called Stone’s initial nine-year sentencing recommendation from the Department of Justice a “a horrible and very unfair situation”.

“The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them,” he said. “Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Mr Trump then spoke to attorney general William Barr, who signalled to the DOJ that it would seek a lower sentence, which he was ultimately granted.

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