President Trump on Friday commuted the prison sentence of his longtime friend Roger Stone, sparing Stone from setting foot in prison following his conviction for lying to Congress in part to protect Trump during the Russia investigation.
Three sources told CNN that Trump called Stone Friday and the two had a brief conversation. Trump told him he was commuting his sentence and Stone thanked him. The call lasted a few minutes, sources said.
Stone, 67, was scheduled to report to a federal prison camp in Georgia on Tuesday. He had pleaded for help from the President in recent weeks, calling his surrender a death sentence because of coronavirus inside the federal prison system.
Stone is still challenging in an appeals court the fairness of the jury that unanimously found him guilty on seven counts last year. Trump’s action on Friday only wipes away Stone’s sentence, meaning his felony conviction stands and his appeal may continue on.
Trump’s decision to give clemency to his friend and political adviser is the crescendo of a months-long effort to rewrite the history of the Mueller investigation. This has included selective declassification of intelligence materials, a ramped-up counter-investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, and attempts to drop the case against Michael Flynn.
The President has broad constitutional power to pardon or commute sentences. But Trump is unlike almost any other president in how he’s used the power proactively to save political allies.