Clemency for Stone Runs the Full Gamut, DOJ Asserts

Roger Stone, center, departs federal court in Washington on Feb. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Clarifying the terms of Roger Stone’s get-out-of-jail-free card, the Justice Department on Monday released President Donald Trump’s order of clemency for the convicted political strategist.

Trump had issued the order Friday with little time to spare, just four days before Stone was due to begin serving a 40-month sentence.

While Trump did not go so far as to pardon Stone of the seven criminal counts that a jury of his peers found him guilty of last year, the order does allow Stone to avoid the prison sentence, two years of supervised release and a $20,000 fine. 

An appeal of the sentence, now voided, and conviction remains pending before the D.C. Circuit. 

Deflecting accusations that the relief for Trump’s longtime ally was politically motivated, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Monday accused federal investigators of having targeted Stone improperly.

“What I will say is that the Roger Stone clemency was a very important moment for justice in this country,” McEnany said. “You had a completely bogus Russia witch hunt that found nothing.”

Stone was convicted of obstruction, lying to Congress and witness tampering during the House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump had hinted for months that he would come to Stone’s aid, having boldly defended the convicted criminal just hours after Stone’s sentencing hearing in Washington.

“Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion,” Trump said in February. 

The Justice Department publicly released Friday’s order just hours after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson requested a copy for the court Monday morning, citing confusion about whether the order applied to the supervised release and fine. 

Before he was due Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Institution, Jesup, a medium-security prison in Georgia, Stone had been serving two weeks home confinement. Friday’s order instructs the Pretrial Services Office to immediately release Stone with all possible speed.  

The White House on Friday had called Stone a “victim of the Russia hoax,” saying his conviction was “the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice.”

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” McEnany said. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”  

But top Democrats slammed Trump’s play of the clemency card as “patently personal and self-serving,” arguing he rewarded Stone for refusing to cooperate with federal investigators examining the president’s conduct. 

In recent weeks, defense attorneys had argued that Stone suffers from an underlying medical condition — which remained under seal — and that Covid-19 was spreading through the federal prison where their client was slated to serve out his sentence.

But the D.C. Circuit, just hours before Trump issued the commutation, rejected Stone’s request to push off his July 14 surrender to prison until September. Sentenced in February, the defendant had already secured a more than two-month delay past his original report date. 

Speaking publicly for the first time since testifying to Congress last year, former special counsel Robert Mueller over the weekend defended his investigation, which led to several indictments of Trump advisers including Stone.

“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 in an op-ed in The Washington Post. 

Federal investigators led by Mueller did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government. 

But evidence presented at trial last year showed Stone closely communicated with top campaign officials, and with Trump himself, about capitalizing on information stolen by Russia in the months leading up to Election Day.

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