Washington, July 10 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump on Friday commuted his former aid Roger Stone’s prison sentence, days before he was to begin his 40-month jail term for felony crimes.
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 had rejected his plea.
However, the White House denounced the prosecutors, who got Trump’s former campaign adviser convicted after “farcical investigations, conducted at great taxpayer expense” 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.
“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,” the statement said.
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 was convicted after weeks of internal fighting within the Justice Department, and after the US Attorney General, William Barr issued a recommendation urging that the initial request for punishment be lowered.
That prompted several prosecutors to resign and report pressure from senior Justice Department officials to treat Stone “differently and more leniently” because of his relationship with Trump.
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.
Stone was convicted as part of the investigation led by the Russian plot’s special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who exonerated Trump from colluding with Russia during the 2016 election process but cast doubt on the possibility that the president obstructed the investigation. EFE-EPA