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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.

Go deeper

Always Trumpers: The president’s unbreakable wall

Data: Axios research and FiveThirtyEight's Trump Score. See our methodology here. Note(*): Senator Mitt Romney did not join Congress until January 2019. However, statements he made as a prominent GOP figure prior to his time in office were taken into consideration. Chart: Naema Ahmed, Sara Wise, Juliet Bartz, Orion Rummler/Axios

More than 85% of elected Republicans who have been in Congress throughout President Trump’s term have largely stood by him through seven crises that would have crushed most politicians, according to a comprehensive new study by "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: The data shows how Trump’s grip on the Republican Party has tightened — especially in the last two years — as his dissenters have largely piped down, been tossed out, or currently face the threat of losing re-election.

54 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
  5. Local: Ultra-rich Florida community got vaccinations in January.