Democrats and Republicans criticize Trump for commuting Roger Stone’s prison sentence
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., became the latest lawmaker to criticize President Trump for commuting the prison sentence of his longtime political confidant Roger Stone on Friday.
Schiff, whose contentious relationship with the president has played out on Capitol Hill and on Twitter, called Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence “offensive” and argued that the president’s allies can do whatever they want and get off “scot-free.”
“I think anyone who cares about the rule of law in this country is nauseated by the fact that the president has commuted the sentence of someone who willfully lied to Congress, covered up for the president, intimidated witnesses, obstructed the investigation,” Schiff said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t matter whether you’re Democrat or Republican. This should be offensive to you if you care about the rule of law.”
He added: “The president, through this commutation, is basically saying, ‘if you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you have my back, then I will make sure that you get a get out of jail free card.’ …They get off scot-free.”
Trump’s move to commute Stone’s sentence came Friday, just days before Stone was to begin serving a 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.
The action, which Trump had foreshadowed in recent days, underscores the president’s lingering rage over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and is part of a continuing effort by the president and his administration to criticize the probe that has shadowed the White House from the outset.
In a lengthy statement released late Friday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president had made the decision to commute Stone’s sentence “in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial.”
“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,” McEnany said in a statement Friday night. “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. The collusion delusion spawned endless and farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense, looking for evidence that did not exist.”
McEnany added that Mueller’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.”
Stone, 67, had been set to report to prison on Tuesday after a federal appeals court rejected his bid to postpone his surrender date. Although a commutation does not nullify Stone’s felony convictions, it protects him from serving prison time as a result.
Trump’s move also drew the criticism of some of his fellow Republicans.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney – arguably the most vocal critic of Trump in the GOP — condemned the move. “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” he tweeted Saturday.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called Trump’s move a “mistake,” noting that Attorney General William Barr had called Stone’s prosecution “righteous” and the sentencing “fair.”
“The president clearly has the legal and constitutional authority to grant clemency for federal crimes,” Toomey said in a statement. “However, this authority should be used judiciously and very rarely by any president.”
Mueller over the weekend broke his months of silence since appearing before Congress and defended his investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, writing in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that the probe was of “paramount importance” and asserting that a Trump ally, Roger Stone, “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so” despite the president’s decision to commute his prison sentence.
“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mueller wrote.