Image Courtesy of Axios
By: Jeremy Perillo
After various allusions from the White House on the fate of Trump ally and convicted felon Roger Stone, Trump officially pardoned Stone not long before he was due to start his 40-month prison sentence.
Stone is a longtime Trump ally, Republican consultant, and notorious “dirty trickster.” Stone’s conviction stems from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign, in which he was convicted on all counts brought against him, including witness tampering, making false statements, and obstruction.
Despite Stone’s conviction and his candidness regarding some of his escapades (Stone has acknowledged on numerous occasions that he established communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to get incriminating information on Hillary Clinton), Trump and some of his confidants remain steadfast that Stone was a victim of the Russia hoax perpetrated by the media and the political left to ruin Trump.
“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,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.“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.”
Some close to Trump thought that granting Stone a commuted sentence was too great a risk. Both Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Attorney General Bill Barr advocated against the commuted sentence, and Barr previously discussed in an interview that Stone’s sentence was “fair” and that the prosecution was “righteous” and “appropriate.”
On the Hill, the response to the President’s announcement was to be expected. Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move highly corrupt and promised that Congress would take action to “prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing” from happening again. While most Republicans fell in line behind Trump’s decision, many prominent GOP Senators did not express their support.
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) expressed that while the president has the constitutional authority to grant pardons and commute sentences, it should be done sparingly and judiciously.
“While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake,” said Toomey. Stone was “duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee.”
Toomey also cited Barr’s concerns as an added aversion to Stone’s commuted sentence. GOP Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), was the other dissenting voice, while not surprising given his rocky history with the President. Romney, who was the only Republican in the Senate that voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges, cited the event as being a demonstration of blatant corruption.
As Trump continues trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls roughly three months away from election day, and as America continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Stone’s commuted sentence gives the appearance of playing towards Trump’s loyal base, rather than maintaining an effort of corralling persuadable voters.