Washington, United States | XINHUA | U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive grant of clemency commuting the prison time of his longtime confidant Roger Stone, said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday.
The announcement came shortly after an appeals court denied Stone’s motion to delay the start of his prison term, scheduled to begin Tuesday.
McEnany said in a statement that the sentence is “unjust,” calling Stone “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.”
“Roger Stone is now a free man,” McEnany added.
Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, the chairs of the Democrat-led House Judiciary and Oversight committees respectively, said in a joint statement that Trump “abused the powers of his office” to reward “an individual that could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct.”
Stone, a former campaign adviser for Trump during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and witness tampering during former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
In November 2019, a federal court jury found Stone guilty of lying to a House committee about his efforts to find out what WikiLeaks planned to do with hacked emails dealing with Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The jury concluded that Stone also urged a radio host to lie to Congress about their WikiLeaks conversations.
Stone was not charged with any underlying crime of coordinating with Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, although Mueller’s team investigated Stone over tweets claiming to be in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Career federal prosecutors initially recommended a prison sentence of seven to nine years earlier this year. However, Attorney General William Barr intervened hours after Trump tweeted his displeasure and directed the Justice Department to submit a new court filing, saying a three-to-four-year sentence would be “more in line with the typical sentences imposed” in similar cases.
Four prosecutors resigned in protest afterwards and Barr was under fire for allegations of “misuse of the criminal justice system” at the time.