President Trump is commuting the prison sentence of Republican political operative Roger Stone via an executive grant of clemency, the White House said in a statement. Mr. Trump extended reprieve to his longtime informal adviser and ally days before he was expected to report to prison.
The statement from the White House called Stone a “victim of the Russia Hoax” and said there was “never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia.” Stone was convicted in November of lying to Congress about his efforts to collaborate with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign and threatening a witness to cover up his actions.
“As it became clear that these witch hunts would never bear fruit, the Special Counsel’s Office resorted to process-based charges leveled at high-profile people in an attempt to manufacture the false impression of criminality lurking below the surface,” the statement said.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler tweeted Friday night that the committee would be conducting an investigation. “A jury found Roger Stone guilty,” Nadler wrote. “By commuting his sentence, President Trump has infected our judicial system with partisanship and cronyism and attacked the rule of law.”
Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, said Stone and his wife are “incredibly honored that President Trump used his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy.” Mr. Trump, returning to the White House on Friday after spending the day in Florida, did not take questions from reporters about Stone.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called Trump’s decision “among the most offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice.”
“With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else,” Schiff added. “Donald Trump, Bill Barr, and all those who enable them pose the gravest of threats to the rule of law.”
In a statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried the “staggering corruption” of commuting Stone’s sentence.
“Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing. 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,” Pelosi said
Republican Senator Mitt Romney also criticized Stone’s commutation, calling it “unprecedented, historic corruption” on Twitter.
The move from Mr. Trump caps months of speculation as to Stone’s future after he was convicted of seven federal charges in November. Stone was sentenced to 40 months behind bars in February and was ordered to surrender to a federal prison in Georgia on July 14. On Friday night, a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., denied Stone’s emergency motion to further delay his surrender date to prison.
The president has been vocal in his support for Stone, hinting numerous times he might grant clemency to his close confidante and lambasting his prosecution. Early last month, Mr. Trump tweeted that Stone was the “victim of a corrupt and illegal witch hunt” and wrote “he can sleep well at night.” Further fueling speculation, the president retweeted a user who said that “it’s time to #PardonRogerStone.”