WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump may have commuted his long-time ally Roger Stone’s prison sentence but the man remains a convicted criminal, former special counsel Robert Mueller says.
Stone, 67, had been set to begin serving a 40-month prison term tomorrow after his conviction on seven felony charges originally brought by Mr Mueller as part of the Russia collusion probe.
The charges include tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to help him win the 2016 election.
In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post last Saturday, Mr Mueller defended his probe as being of “paramount importance”, dismissing White House claims that he was out to get Mr Trump.
“Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mr Mueller wrote as politicians piled on Mr Trump for again intervening in the justice system to help an ally.
Senator Mitt Romney, who infuriated Mr Trump when he became the only Republican to vote to convict the President in his impeachment trial, pulled no punches.
“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” he tweeted.
Mr Trump defended his move on Friday night to commute Stone’s sentence, saying he and others convicted of crimes in the Russia probe were caught up in a “witch hunt”. He added: “They’ve all been treated unfairly, and what I did, I will tell you this: people are extremely happy, because in this country, they want justice.”
Most Republicans have remained largely mute on the matter.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in without mentioning Stone by name. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in modern American history,” he tweeted. “Every day that he remains in office, he further threatens the future of our democracy. We have to vote him out this November.”