President Trump announced this evening that he has commuted the sentence of his former campaign advisor Roger Stone, who was convicted by a jury last year of multiple felonies, including repeatedly lying to Congress and threatening a witness in order to obstruct Congress’ investigation of Russian interference to benefit Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn
President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence is another example of Trump’s contempt for the rule of law. This abuse of power by President Trump is all the more troubling considering it comes just months before the presidential general election and Stone’s crimes obstructed the investigation of Russian interference to help Trump win the 2016 election. President Trump’s action tonight sends a clear and disturbing message to his campaign staff and advisors: he will protect and reward those who facilitate foreign interference in the election.
Congress must immediately investigate whether Trump’s commutation of Stone’s sentence involves illegal obstruction of justice, witness tampering, or even bribery. And though Common Cause has no faith that Attorney General Bill Barr will do his job and investigate this matter, the Department of Justice led by a new Attorney General in 2021 could and should investigate Trump for such possible crimes if he has left office.
President Trump has repeatedly abused his power to help Stone. Earlier this year, federal prosecutors had recommended a 7-9 year prison sentence for Stone, but Trump pressured Attorney General Barr to override the prosecutors and file a revised sentencing memorandum with the court seeking a lighter sentence. Eventually, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison and ordered him to begin his sentence July 14. Last month, in rejecting Stone’s request to delay the start of his sentence to September, Judge Berman Jackson explained: “Mr. Stone was convicted of threatening a witness, and throughout the course of these criminal proceedings, the Court has been forced to address his repeated attempts to intimidate, and to stoke potentially violent sentiment against, an array of participants in the case, including individuals involved in the investigation, the jurors, and the Court.”