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Haryana

Trump commutes jail term of friend, sparks outrage

July 12, 2020 06:20 AM

COURTESY TOI JULY 12

Trump commutes jail term of friend, sparks outrage
‘Staggering Graft’: Dems Slam Clemency For Roger Stone, Vow Probe
Chidanand.Rajghatta@timesgroup.com

Washington:

US President Trump on Friday commuted the prison sentence of another convicted criminal who has been his long-time friend and supporter, alleging that he 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”.


The presidential clemency for self-described dirty trickster, Republican operative and former Trump adviser Roger Stone came just before he was scheduled to report to a federal prison to serve a 40-month term after a jury unanimously found him guilty of seven counts of felony, including lying to Congress and obstructing justice in course of the Mueller investigation. Stone, 67, said Trump phoned him on Friday to inform him of the commutation, reminding him of their 40-year friendship. He said he was fearful of catching the coronavirus in prison given his age, and having been asthmatic as a child.

The presidential clemency was widely condemned including in some Republican circles but welcomed by his supporters. Critics wondered about the contradiction between Trump’s concern for the health of his criminal friends if they went to prison, and his unconcern about the dangers of coronavirus to kids as he forces schools and colleges across the country to re-open.

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Republican Senator Mitt Romney, among GOP stalwarts who are speaking out against Trump, tweeted. Trump’s own Attorney General William Barr had said a few days ago that the prosecution of Stone was “righteous” and the “sentence that the judge ultimately gave was fair”.

Democrats also condemned the commutation of Stone’s prison term and vowed to investigate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the move an act of “staggering corruption”. But Trump argued that Stone’s conviction was part of a witchhunt against him by Democrats who could not stomach the 2016 election results.

Trump says the charges are a hoax. “Stone was charged by the same prosecutors from the Mueller investigation tasked with finding evidence of collusion with Russia. Because no such evidence exists, however, they could not charge him for any collusionrelated crime. Instead, they charged him for his conduct during their probe. The simple fact is that if the special counsel had not been pursuing an absolutely baseless investigation, Stone would not be facing time in prison,” he said.

Trump has now issued 25 clemencies, which is historically a low number compared to that given by his predecessors, some of whom pardoned or commuted the prison sentence of hundreds of people. But most of them were people unrelated or not known to them personally. Among people Trump pardoned before are two of his ardent political supporters — Indian-American Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted for campaign finance violations, and Conrad Black, a former media mogul convicted of mail fraud.

Full report on www.toi.in


President Trump’s decision on Friday to commute Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence days before he was due to report to prison marked his most assertive intervention to protect an associate in a criminal case and his latest use of executive clemency to benefit an ally. Trump has issued 25 clemencies so far. Stone was among several Trump aides charged with crimes in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that documented Russian interference to boost Trump’s 2016 candidacy

 

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