Jul 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Romney calls Stone commutation "historic corruption"

Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.

What they're saying: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) wrote on Saturday afternoon: "The president clearly has the legal and constitutional authority to grant clemency for federal crimes. However, this authority should be used judiciously and very rarely by any president. While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone's sentence is a mistake."

  • "He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee. Earlier this week Attorney General Bill Barr stated he thought Mr. Stone's prosecution was 'righteous' and 'appropriate' and the sentence he received was 'fair.' Any objections to Mr. Stone's conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process."

Meanwhile, other Republicans have defended the president's move.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted before Stone's commutation was official: "In my view it would be justified if President @realDonaldTrump decided to commute Roger Stone's prison sentence.Mr. Stone is in his 70s and this was a non-violent, first-time offense.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote on Twitter that he supports the commutation, adding "Roger Stone’s prosecution by overzealous Special Counsel prosecutors was an outgrowth of the Obama-Biden misconduct."

The big picture: Stone was convicted as part of the Robert Mueller investigation for obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses and making false statements to Congress. The president's commutation cleared Stone's entire 40-month prison sentence.

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