President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime ally Roger Stone late Friday.
The White House confirmed Trump’s action in a statement.
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency. There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia,” the statement said.
“In light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the President has determined to commute his sentence,” the statement added. “Roger Stone has already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”
Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison in February for obstruction, witness tampering, and making false statements solely during the course of the Special Counsel investigation of alleged collusion between Trump and Russia. He was not found guilty of any wrongdoing connected to the collusion allegations.
An appeals court decided late on Friday that Stone’s sentence could not be postponed further. He was scheduled to report to prison to begin his sentence on Tuesday.
“Stone is not legally eligible for further postponement of his reporting date under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c), which is the only basis on which he seeks relief from this court. We therefore deny his motion,” the court ordered, as reported by Fox News.
67-year-old Stone was allowed to postpone his sentence until July due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have deep concerns about going to a prison where there absolutely is COVID virus, and, therefore, either one would have an effect of saving my life,” Stone told Fox News earlier this week.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, Trump had suggested he was considering taking action in Stone’s favor.
“I am always thinking,” Trump told Hannity when asked if he was considering pardoning or commuting Stone’s sentence.
Trump previously condemned the way Stone was treated by law enforcement. Stone was arrested by the FBI in a highly publicized incident broadcast by CNN during which federal agents donning tactical gear and automatic rifles pulled Stone from his home in an early morning raid.
” The simple fact is that if the Special Counsel had not been pursuing an absolutely baseless investigation, Mr. Stone would not be facing time in prison,” the White House statement added on Friday.
NBC News analyst Howard Fineman said he spoke to Stone on Friday and Stone requested a commuted sentence in lieu of a pardon.
“[Trump] knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t,” Stone said, according to Fineman.