President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t immediately pardon his former associate Roger Stone but indicated he would intervene in the case if courts don’t overturn his conviction, after he was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon the president of the United States,” Trump said in Las Vegas at an event hosted by a charity, Hope for Prisoners, that helps former prisoners transition back into society. “I want the process to be played out. I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
Trump complained at length about Stone’s case, alleging that the forewoman of his jury, Tomeka Hart, was “tainted” because she is an “anti-Trump activist.” He indicated he came to that conclusion based on social media posts that Hart had deleted but didn’t provide examples.
“Roger Stone has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion,” Trump said.
Trump also said the justice system is unfair because his political opponents, including former FBI officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, as well as “people that are even in Roger Stone’s basic business of politics” had not been charged with crimes.
Stone’s sentence ended a tumultuous stretch for the Justice Department, after Trump criticized prosecutors’ initial recommendation that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison. The Justice Department reduced the recommendation after Trump tweeted his complaint about it, prompting four prosecutors to resign from the case. One quit the government altogether.
Conservative media including Fox Newsscrutinized Hart after she publicly defended the prosecutors who resigned from the case in a Facebook post that’s no longer publicly available. Trump suggested she was able to sway the rest of the jury to convict Stone — “she can get people to do whatever she wants,” he said.
Hart should have been asked, “Do you have any bias?” before being selected for the jury, Trump said. “She didn’t say that. Is that a defrauding of the court? You tell me,” he said to his audience in Las Vegas.
“Does this undermine our fair system of justice?”
Trump has repeatedly suggested in public remarks that he might pardon Stone. While he indicated he would hold off that step, at least for now, Trump strongly hinted at the Las Vegas event that he would pardon the leader of Hope for Prisoners, Jon Ponder, who is himself a felon.
“We are giving him absolute consideration,” Trump said. “I have a feeling he’s going to get that full pardon.”
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