Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.
Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.
- It also concludes an ongoing dispute between Trump and his Justice Department over the length of Stone’s sentence, which exposed Attorney General Bill Barr to public criticism.
What they're saying: "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," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
- "Mr. Stone would be put at serious medical risk in prison. He has appealed his conviction and is seeking a new trial. He maintains his innocence and has stated that he expects to be fully exonerated by the justice system. Mr. Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts."
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Friday that Trump commuting Stone's sentence "is among the most offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice."
- “Stone repeatedly lied to the House Intelligence Committee under oath and threatened a witness, all to cover up an effort by President Trump and his campaign to secretly communicate with Wikileaks and exploit its release of Russian-hacked emails targeting his opponent."
Background: The DOJ revised its original sentencing guidelines of seven to nine years of prison time for Stone after Trump complained in a tweet that it was a "miscarriage of justice," kicking off a wave of backlash and the resignation of a number of prosecutors.
- During Stone's sentencing hearing, federal prosecutors ultimately argued within the parameters of the original sentencing guidelines.
Of note: Stone was the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
- The high-profile commutation follows Trump's post-impeachment clemency spree during which he commuted or pardoned multiple white-collar criminals convicted of crimes such as corruption, gambling fraud and racketeering.
Flashback: Stone and Trump have maintained a rapport for over three decades. After Stone met Trump through Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign, he counseled the businessman through three potential presidential runs.
- Trump in return hired Stone as a lobbyist to represent his businesses, according to The Atlantic.