Trump COMMUTES longtime friend Roger Stone's 'unjust' jail sentenceJuly 11, 2020
Trump COMMUTES Roger Stone’s ‘unjust’ three-year sentence for lying to Congress days before he was due to be jailed and says his longtime friend was a victim of the Russia ‘hoax’
- President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, the longtime former Republican strategist
- Trump hinted on Friday that he would do so and also complained that Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and James Comey were ‘walking around’
- Stone said he knew Trump knew he was in ‘enormous pressure to turn on him’ but refused
- In a pair of interviews Thursday, Trump floated the idea of granting clemency to Stone, who is set to go to prison later this month
- When quizzed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity whether he’s considering pardoning his friend and ally, Trump responded, ‘I am always thinking’
- A jury convicted the former strategist of seven felony counts in November
- The charges included five counts of making false statements to the FBI and Congress, one count of witness tampering, and one obstruction of justice count
- Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his crimes, in addition to a $20k fine, four years probation and 250 hours community service
President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of his longtime advisor Roger Stone just days before the self-proclaimed ‘dirty trickster’ was set to report to a federal penitentiary.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump ‘signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr. … Roger Stone is now a free man!’
Stone told The Associated Press that Trump had called him earlier Friday to inform him of the commutation.
Stone was celebrating in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with conservative friends and said he had to change rooms because there were ‘too many people opening bottles of Champagne here.’
McEnany called Stone a ‘victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media.’
President Donald Trump (left) commuted the sentence of Roger Stone (right), the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an adviser on his presidential campaign
‘Not only was Mr. Stone charged by overzealous prosecutors pursing a case that never should have existed, and arrested in an operation that never should have been approved, but there were also serious questions about the jury in the case,’ she said in a statement.
A commutation does not erase Stone’s felony convictions in the same way a pardon would, but it would protect him from serving prison time as a result.
The move comes less than 24 hours after Fox News, which hosted Trump for a call-in interview Thursday night where he said he was considering a pardon for Trump, reported Friday that Trump was expected to provide executive clemency for Stone.
It was expected that the White House would make the announcement sometime on Friday, when Trump is scheduled to fly back to Washington, DC, from Florida.
The president was in the Sunshine State to host a fundraiser and hold other events even as the state battles a coronavirus outbreak.
The move would prevent Stone from having to report to a Georgia prison on July 14.
Stone’s lawyers have been fighting the start of the sentence, urging Amy Berman Jackson to delay it by citing the coronavirus and potential risks to Stone’s health.
Clemency is provided before someone starts serving their sentence.
It also may not include the full benefits of a full pardon, which can involve the restoration of voting rights and protection from deportation.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump ‘signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr. … Roger Stone is now a free man!’
As Washington buzzed about the legal and political implications – and any potential blowback for the president for pardoning a convicted felon who was close to him – stone told journalist Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post he doesn’t want a pardon, which he said implies guilt, but would prefer a commutation of his sentence.
‘He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t,’ Stone said.
Word of a potential Friday night action came hours after Trump told reporters he would soon be reviewing Stone’s case.
Trump has repeatedly defended Stone, who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Trump commented on Stone’s case as he left the White House on a trip to Stone’s home state of Florida – as he suggested both his predecessor and his presumed Democratic challenger should be jailed over the Russia probe.
‘I’ll be looking at it. I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated, as were many people,’ Trump said.
‘And in the meantime Comey and all these guys are walking around – including Biden and Obama – because we caught them spying on my campaign. Who would have believed that one?’ Trump said.
Trump may have been referring to information about Barack Obama officials who ordered ‘unmasking’ of intercepts that were revealed to involve former national security advisor Mike Flynn – whose prosecution infuriated Trump.
He has repeatedly raged at former FBI Director James Comey for his role in the Russia probe.
Stone, 67, was prosecuted as an offshoot of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe – which Trump repeatedly has cast as a ‘witch hunt’ designed to take him down.
He tweeted last month that Stone was ‘a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”
Trump’s comments added to other remarks in interviews Thursday indicating he may be on the verge of pardoning or commuting the sentence of Stone, the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an adviser on his presidential campaign.
Stone’s lawyers have been seeking to overturn Judge Jackson’s order that he report to a federal correctional facility in Georgia by citing COVID-19 and health risks.
When quizzed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday night on whether he’s considering pardoning his friend and ally, Trump responded, ‘I am always thinking’.
‘You’ll be watching like everyone else in this case,’ Trump coyly added.
Trump lamented that Joe Biden (pictured) and Barack Obama were still ‘walking around’ rather than in jail
Roger Stone, longtime political ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, flashes a victory gesture as he departs following a status conference in the criminal case against him brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2019
Stone is a longtime political trickster who idolizes Richard Nixon
A federal judge on Friday denied a motion by Stone’s lawyers and said he had to report to jail next week
Stone stressed his faith in an online interview Friday, when he said he did not want a pardon but sought to avoid jail
In a separate interview with radio host Howie Carr, the president condemned Stone’s ‘horrible’ treatment at the hands of law enforcement, and once again added he may grant his clemency plea.
‘He was framed. He was treated horrible. He was treated so badly,’ Trump said.
Amid claims Stone was ‘praying’ for a pardon before he’s due to report to prison on July 14, Trump said a divine intervention of sorts may not be totally out of the realms of possibility.
‘If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered,’ the president said during the phone interview. ‘Let’s see what happens.’
Trump went on to credit Stone as a ‘good person’, and billing him as ‘a character’.
A jury convicted the former strategist of seven felony counts in November, which included five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, one count of witness tampering, and one obstruction of justice count.
According to prosecutors, Stone lied during testimony and failed to turn over documents to Congress in 2017, showing he had attempted to make contact with the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks a year earlier.
He lied about five facts, obscuring his attempt to use intermediaries to get information that could help then-candidate Trump in the election against Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors were initially seeking a prison term of seven to nine years, but Attorney General William Barr later retracted that recommendation shortly after Trump called it ‘harsh’ and ‘unfair’ on Twitter.
A crooked police commissioner and a governor who tried to shake down a children’s hospital: Who’s Who of Donald Trump’s pardon spree
Financier Michael Milken is known for pioneering high-yield ‘junk’ bonds.
In March 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Milken on 98 counts of and fraud and he pleaded guilty to six counts of securities and tax violation.
Milken, 73, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his crimes while heading the bond department at the investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert, and fined $600 million.
His sentence was later reduced to two years after he cooperated with federal authorities.
Trump praised Milken’s work on cancer research, saying he ‘has gone around and done an incredible job for the world with all of his research on cancer.’
Milken survived prostate cancer and co-founded the Milken Family Foundation and is chairman of the Milken Institute – the charities fund research into melanoma, cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Kerik was appointed New York police commissioner by Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now Trump’s personal attorney.
In June 2006, Kerik pleaded guilty in Bronx Supreme Court to two ethics violations.
Kerik acknowledged that during the time he was Interior Minister of Iraq – under President George W. Bush – he accepted a $250,000 interest-free ‘loan’ from Israeli billionaire Eitan Wertheimer and failed to report it.
In November 2007, Kerik was indicted by a federal grand jury in White Plains, New York on charges of tax fraud, and making false statements to the federal government about the loan.
He later pleaded guilty to eight felony tax and false statement charges and was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release. That time concluded in October 2016.
Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, was sent to prison for 14 years for soliciting bribes, including those for the Senate seat once held by Barack Obama and for trying to shake down a children’s hospital.
Blagojevich threatened to revoke funds to Children’s Memorial Hospital after its chief executive officer did not give a $50,000 contribution to the governor’s campaign.
The 63-year-old has been in the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado, since March 15, 2012.
His expected release date was 2024, factoring in two years of credit for good behavior.
In 2009, Blagojevich appeared on NBC’s ‘The Apprentice,’ the reality TV show then hosted by Trump.
The former San Francisco 49ers owner paid $400,000 to former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards to help win a riverboat casino license in 1998.
He pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to report a felony, and received a $1million fine and two years of probation.
He stepped down as owner in 1997 after two Louisiana newspapers reported he would be indicted for gambling fraud. He was also suspended for a year by the NFL.
DeBartolo owned the 49ers for 23 years and won five Super Bowls as their owner.
A guilty verdict last year brought an abrupt end to the decades-long career of Roger Stone, a smooth-talking agent provocateur and self-proclaimed dirty trickster who thrived in the shadier margins of U.S. politics.
Growing up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family, Roger Jason Stone Jr.’s zeal for the rough and tumble of political life was apparent from a young age.
In elementary school he advocated for John F. Kennedy telling kids in the cafeteria line that Nixon would make them attend extra classes on a Saturday if he won the 1960 election.
When he was a junior and vice president of student government in high school Stone manipulated the ouster of the president so he could take over.
‘I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket,’ he would brag to the New York Times decades later.
‘I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that’s mean? No, it’s smart.’
Roger Stone was found guilty of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress bringing his decades-long career to an end
He worked for Richard Nixon, becoming so enthralled with the president that Stone would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back
Stone was hired as an adviser when Trump finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later after Stone first suggested he run. Stone was pushed out in a power struggle
Stone entered the political arena for real in 1972 when he ditched his studies at George Washington University, this time to support Nixon in his re-election campaign – not to be the only time he shifted allegiances without a qualm.
In one of his first ‘dirty tricks’ he contributed $135 to one of Nixon’s Republican rivals in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance – then slipped the receipt to a journalist.
When Nixon triumphed the braggadocious young aide was rewarded with a job in the administration.
Perhaps unintentionally, his association with student dirty tricks also gained him an association with the ‘ratf***ers,’ the dirty operative beloved of Nixon.
Stone himself denied being one of them, saying they were from the University of Southern California, but the nickname was attached to him for life.
The 37th President of the United States left a lasting impression on Stone: the longtime GOP operative would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back.
‘Women love it,’ he told the New Yorker. ‘The reason I’m a Nixonite is because of his indestructibility and resilience.
Nixon left another legacy on Stone: Watergate.
During congressional hearings into the scandal in 1973 it emerged Stone had recruited a spy to infiltrate the campaigns of several of Nixon’s Democratic rivals.
He was fired from his job with then-Senator Bob Dole but his reputation for the dark political arts was intact.
Stone reunited with Dole for his 1996 presidential campaign but resigned when The National Enquirer revealed he placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone.
He later referred to himself in an interview with the New Yorker, partly conducted in a swingers club, as ‘a libertarian and a libertine’and a ‘trysexual – I’ve tried everything’.
The couple have more recently apparently found religion, bringing a pastor in robes to the trial with them and being seen at Sunday mass.
The former advisor to President Donald Trump has a tattoo with Nixon’s face on his upper back, which he showed off for a Netflix special
In 1996 The National Enquirer revealed Stone placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone
Stone adopted President Nixon’s iconic V for victory symbol, often posing with it
Stone, pictured at his office in Florida, is a veteran Republican political operative after entering politics in 1972
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns: those of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and, eventually, his longtime friend Donald Trump, who had hired Stone to lobby for his casino businesses in the 1990s.
He likewise forged a longtime bond with the disgraced former Trump campaign chairman and now federal prison inmate Paul Manafort after the pair co-founded one of DC earliest ‘mega-lobbying’ firms, Black, Manafort & Stone, in 1980.
Along the way he picked up a reputation for dark arts and darker acts, a penchant for expensive tailoring and a rolodex of clients from the top of the Republican party and further afield – including Donald Trump’s struggling casino business, a connection which was to prove key to his future.
Stone first suggested Trump run for president in early 1998, and even worked out of Trump Tower for a while to help him.
He was hired as an adviser when his old ally finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later.
But he was pushed out in a power struggle which left him on the outside looking in – and phoning Trump with his advice and also apparently bragging of his connections to WikiLeaks.
Outside the campaign he accused Ted Cruz of having had affairs with five women; Cruz shot back that he was a ‘ratf***er’ and claimed he was ‘pulling the strings on Donald Trump.’
But inside Trump Tower, there was a different, and for Stone sadder, picture emerging.
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns including Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and his longtime friend Donald Trump
Roger Jason Stone Jr grew up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family and where his zeal for politics was apparent from a young age (pictured with Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater)
Senior Campaign figures hinted that the silver-haired Svengali’s influence was waning by the time WikiLeaks threw the 2016 Presidential race into turmoil.
Rick Gates said Stone still had access to senior Trump figures despite having left his position but the relationship had become ‘tense.’
And Steve Bannon admitted in his testimony that he derived enjoyment from ‘heckling’ Stone when his big Julian Assange predictions fell flat.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive.
He found work with InfoWars, an apt home for a man who had pushed conspiracy theories for decades, and a regular place on the speaking circuit.
But the Mueller inquiry brought massive legal bills – and even then expensive legal counsel did not stop him committing a massive blunder in 2017: lying to Congress.
Despite that Stone was predicting right up until January of this year that he would evade Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, sneering in an exclusive DailyMail.com interview: ‘They got nothing.’
Three weeks later he found himself in handcuffs when rifle-wielding FBI agents surrounded his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home in the middle of the night to take him into custody.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive
Stone’s home was raided in the early hours of the morning this year and he was taken into custody
Then, on the steps of the federal courthouse in Broward County, Stone enjoyed perhaps his last hurrah, emerging defiant and unbowed to deliver a scathing diatribe about the Mueller ‘witch-hunt’ while flashing Nixon’s trademark victory signs.
When he followed that up by peddling ‘Roger Stone did nothing wrong’ t-shirts, launching a media tour and posting a mocked-up Instagram image of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in rifle crosshairs, enough was enough.
Berman Jackson responded by slapping Stone with a gag order banning him from speaking about his case in the press or via social media.
When it was their turn to address the trial, defense attorneys chose to play audio of Stone speaking before Congress in 2017 rather than have jurors hear from the man himself.
It was perhaps tacit acceptance that the world had heard quite enough already from Watergate survivor Roger Stone and his vindictive brand of no-holds-barred politics.
Four prosecutors then withdrew from the case in response to Barr’s decision. One of the prosecutors, Aaron Zelinsky, testified to Congress last month that DOJ leaders sought a weaker sentence for Stone at the direction of AG Barr because they were ‘afraid of the president.’
Stone was eventually sentenced by a judge to 40 months in prison for his crimes, in addition to a $20,000 fine, four years probation after his prison term, and 250 hours community service.
The developments in the case raised concerns regarding the DOJ’s independence from political pressure and prompted congressional Democrats to call for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate.
Barr, meanwhile, told ABC News that, regardless of Trump’s tweet, Stone had already decided to request a lighter sentence for Stone. He added that the president’s constant public commentary made it ‘impossible’ for him to do his job.
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. ‘I’d love to see it happen.’
But Trump stopped short of committing himself to pardoning Stone, 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.’
The commutation was the latest example of Trump using his unlimited clemency power to pardon powerful men he believes have been mistreated by the justice system.
Trump went on a clemency spree in February commuting the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and pardoning former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, financier Michael Milken and several others.
Trump has also offered clemency to other political allies, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was awaiting sentencing at the time, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who had been convicted on campaign finance violations, and Conrad Black, a newspaper publisher convicted of fraud who had written a flattering book about the president.
Trump, however, has spent much more time trumpeting his decision to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offenses and who came to Trump’s attention after reality star Kim Kardashian West took up her cause.
Her story was featured in a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad.
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