Crime & Justice

Mueller defends Russia probe after Trump commutes ex-adviser’s sentence

Washington, July 11 (efe-epa).- Former United States prosecutor Robert Mueller on Saturday defended his probe into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, a day after President Donald Trump commuted the prison sentence of his former aid Roger Stone, one of the central figures in the investigations into ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office,” Mueller wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.

The article appeared after a White House statement denounced the prosecutors into the Russian plot, who got Trump’s former campaign adviser convicted, calling it “farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense” and based on “evidence that did not exist”.

“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years to undermine the Trump presidency. There was never any collusion between the Trump campaign, or the Trump administration, with Russia,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

But Mueller pushed back against Trump, saying the “Russia investigation was of paramount importance”.

“Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” wrote Mueller, who has always remained in the background.

Stone was convicted as part of the investigation led by Mueller, who exonerated Trump of the allegations that he colluded with Russia during the 2016 election process but cast doubt on the possibility that the president obstructed the investigation

This is for the first time that Mueller has put up such a spirited defense of his investigations, which focused on finding out if Trump’s campaign team conspired with the Kremlin during the 2016 elections and if the president himself tried to obstruct the investigation of those events.

“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false,” he said.

He, however, didn’t name the president in the opinion piece but alluded to the comments made by the White House in commuting Stone’s prison term.

Stone, 67, was sentenced last February to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering in the investigation into the so-called Russian plot.

He had requested the Washington DC Court of Appeals to delay the start date of his custodial term that was set to begin on Tuesday in Jesup prison of Georgia. The appeals court rejected his plea.

The White House did not specifically assert that Stone was innocent but said he should not have been put on trial because prosecutors filed no charges of a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts. The president does not wish to interfere with his efforts to do so,” it said.

“At this time, however, and particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the president has determined to commute his sentence.”

The White House said that Stone has “already suffered greatly” after he was treated “very unfairly”.

“Roger Stone is now a free man.”

Stone is a veteran Republican political adviser whose clients included former presidents Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and Richard Nixon (1969-1974) and whose favorite motto is: “Don’t admit anything, deny it all, and launch a counterattack”.

Stone, who advised Trump for years and worked until August 2015 on his electoral campaign, was detained by the FBI in January 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

According to the prosecutor’s Office, Stone acted as a link between the Trump campaign in 2016 and the WikiLeaks platform, which spread stolen emails to the Democratic National Committee that were harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. EFE-EPA

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