Will commuting Roger Stone’s sentence hurt Trump politically?
Byron York weighs in on the backlash over President Trump commuting the sentence of Roger Stone
A federal judge on Monday ordered the government to explain the “scope” of President Trump’s commutation of longtime GOP operative Roger Stone, including whether the move only involved the sentence of incarceration, or also the period of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the government to provide the court by Tuesday, July 14, “a copy of the Executive Order commuting the defendant’s sentence and to address the question of the scope of the commutation, in particular, whether it involves the sentence of incarceration alone or also the period of supervised release.”
In February, Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison, along with 24 months of supervised release and a $20,000 fine.
The filing, signed by Jackson, comes after the White House announced Friday that the president signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting what they called the “unjust sentence” of Stone, just days before the longtime political operative was slated to report to prison to serve more than three years for charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Stone was set to report to prison on July 14 to serve 40 months. He was sentenced in February to more than three years in prison after being convicted in November 2019 on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress. Stone, however, has appealed his conviction and continues to deny any wrongdoing.
In a statement to Fox News, Stone's attorney Grant Smith said: "Mr. Stone is incredibly honored that President Trump used his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy.”
Smith added: "Mr. and Mrs. Stone appreciate all the consideration the President gave to this matter.”
Earlier Friday, before Trump announced the commutation, an appeals court denied Stone's request to delay reporting for his sentence, saying he must report for prison on Tuesday.
EXCLUSIVE: ROGER STONE SAYS HE IS 'PRAYING' FOR CLEMENCY FROM TRUMP, DAYS BEFORE HE IS SET TO REPORT TO PRISON
"In sum, 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 wrote in its order.
The president's commutation, though, nullifies that order.
Trump, for weeks, has signaled he could be open to granting Stone clemency — tweeting last month that Stone was “a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”
During an exclusive interview with Fox News last week, Stone said he was “praying” for Trump to intervene.
When asked whether he’d prefer a pardon or a commutation of his sentence, Stone said “either one obviously would have an effect, in my opinion, of saving my life.”
A presidential pardon completely absolves an individual of the crime he or she is found to have committed. A commutation lessens the punishment or eliminates jail time, but leaves the conviction standing.
Stone was not charged with any underlying crime of coordinating with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, though Mueller’s team investigated Stone over tweets claiming to have information about WikiLeaks document dumps prior to their release.
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