President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone on Friday, sparing him from prison after he was convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence days before he was due to report to prison marked the Republican president’s most assertive intervention to protect an associate in a criminal case and his latest use of executive clemency to benefit an ally. Democrats condemned Trump’s action as an assault on the rule of law.
“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” the White House said in a statement. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”
The veteran Republican political operative’s friendship with Trump dates back decades. Stone, 67, was scheduled to report by Tuesday to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, to begin serving a sentence of three years and four months.
Trump, seeking re-election on Nov. 3, opted to give Stone a commutation, which does not erase a criminal conviction, rather than a full pardon.
Stone emerged from his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home wearing a mask with the words “Free Roger Stone.”
“This is a horrific, horrific nightmare when you realize that this investigation never had any legitimate or lawful beginning, it was a witch hunt,” Stone said using some of the same words Trump has hurled at prosecutors and Democrats who investigated Moscow’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.
Stone was among several Trump associates charged with crimes in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that documented Russian interference to boost Trump’s 2016 candidacy.