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Saturday, 11 July 2020

Roger Stone says Trump may have 'saved his life' by commuting his sentence and thanks his friend of 40 years after president said he was a victim of the Russia 'hoax' and is now 'a free man'

Roger Stone on Friday said President Trump ‘saved my life’ by commuting his sentence just days before he was scheduled to enter a federal prison.
Stone celebrated his newfound freedom on Friday with a crowd of supporters and well-wishers outside his Fort Lauderdale home.
‘The president has saved my life, and he's given me the opportunity to fight for vindication,’ Stone said.
The 67-year-old Stone said that entering prison would have been a death sentence in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘I'm 67 years old. I had very, very severe asthma as a child. If you look at the profile of those who are most at risk, I think I fit that,’ he said.
Stone added that he wasn’t surprised by the president’s decision to commute his sentence. 
Roger Stone flashes a victory sign after President Trump commuted his 40-month prison sentence. Stone is seen above in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday night
Roger Stone flashes a victory sign after President Trump commuted his 40-month prison sentence. Stone is seen above in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday night
Stone credited the president with 'saving my life' because entering a federal prison would have exposed him to the risk of contracting coronavirus
Stone credited the president with 'saving my life' because entering a federal prison would have exposed him to the risk of contracting coronavirus
Stone said Trump cited their 40-year friendship during a phone conversation late on Friday in which the president informed him that he was commuting their sentence. Trump is seen left with Roger and Nydia Stone in this undated file photo
Stone said Trump cited their 40-year friendship during a phone conversation late on Friday in which the president informed him that he was commuting their sentence. Trump is seen left with Roger and Nydia Stone in this undated file photo
‘Well I was, I was elated,’ he said.
‘Obviously I was somewhat relieved, but I was not surprised.’

Stone was glad that his legal troubles, which he described as a ‘nightmare’ and ‘witch hunt,’ were over.
‘This is a horrific, horrific nightmare when you realize that ... this investigation never had any legitimate or lawful beginning,’ he said.
‘It was a witch hunt. There's no question about that.’
Stone told the New York Post that the president spoke to him by telephone and informed him of his decision to commute his sentence.
‘I told him I was grateful,’ Stone said. ‘He protected my health.’
Stone added: ‘He believes in justice. I felt pretty confident that if he heard the facts of my case, he would make the right decision.’
He said Trump reminded him of their decades-long friendship.
‘He said we’ve known each other for 40 years,’ Stone said.
‘In his opinion, he did not believe I committed a crime.’
Stone said he will appeal his case while at home in South Florida.
‘With the risk of catching COVID, I might not live long enough to see my opinion’ in his appeal if he went to prison, he said.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump 'signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr. … Roger Stone is now a free man!' 
Stone told The Associated Press that Trump had called him earlier Friday to inform him of the commutation. 
Stone was celebrating in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with conservative friends and said he had to change rooms because there were 'too many people opening bottles of Champagne here.'
McEnany called Stone 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.'
'Not only was Mr. Stone charged by overzealous prosecutors pursing a case that never should have existed, and arrested in an operation that never should have been approved, but there were also serious questions about the jury in the case,' she said in a statement.
Democrats were angered by Trump’s decision, with House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff calling it 'offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice,' and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez asking, 'Is there any power Trump won’t abuse?' 
'President Trump has once again abused his power, releasing this commutation on a Friday night, hoping to yet again avoid scrutiny as he lays waste to the norms and the values that make our country a shining beacon to the rest of the world,' a spokesperson for Democratic nominee Joe Biden said.
'He will not be shamed. He will only be stopped when Americans make their voice heard at the ballot box this fall. 
'Enough.' 
A commutation does not erase Stone’s felony convictions in the same way a pardon would, but it would protect him from serving prison time as a result.
The move comes less than 24 hours after Fox News, which hosted Trump for a call-in interview Thursday night when he said he was considering a pardon for Trump, reported that Trump was expected to provide executive clemency for Stone. 
It was expected that the White House would make the announcement sometime on Friday, when Trump was scheduled to fly back to Washington, DC, from Florida.
The president was in the Sunshine State to host a fundraiser and hold other events even as the state battles a coronavirus outbreak.  
Stone's lawyers had been fighting the July 14 start of the sentence, urging Amy Berman Jackson to delay it by citing the coronavirus and potential risks to Stone's health.
Clemency is provided before someone starts serving their sentence. 
It also may not include the full benefits of a full pardon, which can involve the restoration of voting rights and protection from deportation. 
As Washington buzzed about the legal and political implications – and any potential blowback for the president for pardoning a convicted felon who was close to him – Stone told NBC News analyst and Washington Post opinion writer Howard Fineman that he doesn't want a pardon, which he said implies guilt, but would prefer a commutation of his sentence.
'He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn't,' Stone said.   
President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an adviser on his presidential campaign.
A jury convicted the former strategist of seven felony counts in November, which included five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, one count of witness tampering, and one obstruction of justice count
Trump (left) commuted the sentence of Roger Stone (right), the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an adviser on his presidential campaign
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump 'signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr. ¿ Roger Stone is now a free man!'
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump 'signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the unjust sentence of Roger Stone, Jr. … Roger Stone is now a free man!'
Word of a Friday night action came hours after Trump told reporters he would soon be reviewing Stone's case. 
Trump has repeatedly defended Stone, who was convicted of witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Trump commented on Stone's case as he left the White House on a trip to Stone's home state of Florida – as he suggested both his predecessor and his presumed Democratic challenger should be jailed over the Russia probe.  
'I'll be looking at it. I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated, as were many people,' Trump said.
'And in the meantime Comey and all these guys are walking around – including Biden and Obama – because we caught them spying on my campaign. Who would have believed that one?' Trump said.
Trump may have been referring to information about Barack Obama officials who ordered 'unmasking' of intercepts that were revealed to involve former national security adviser Mike Flynn – whose prosecution infuriated Trump. 
He has repeatedly raged at former FBI Director James Comey for his role in the Russia probe. 
Stone, 67, was prosecuted as an offshoot of special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe – which Trump repeatedly has cast as a 'witch hunt' designed to take him down.
He tweeted 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!” 
Trump's comments added to other remarks in interviews Thursday indicating he was on the verge of pardoning or commuting the sentence of Stone, the longtime former Republican strategist who worked as an adviser on his presidential campaign.
Stone's lawyers had been seeking to overturn Judge Jackson's order that he report to a federal correctional facility in Georgia by citing COVID-19 and health risks. 
When quizzed by Fox News' Sean Hannity Thursday night on whether he was considering pardoning his friend and ally, Trump responded, 'I am always thinking'.
'You'll be watching like everyone else in this case,' Trump coyly added.
Trump lamented that Joe Biden (pictured) and Barack Obama were still 'walking around' rather than in jail
Trump lamented that Joe Biden (pictured) and Barack Obama were still 'walking around' rather than in jail
Roger Stone, longtime political ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, flashes a victory gesture as he departs following a status conference in the criminal case against him brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2019
Roger Stone, longtime political ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, flashes a victory gesture as he departs following a status conference in the criminal case against him brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2019
Stone is a longtime political trickster who idolizes Richard Nixon
Stone is a longtime political trickster who idolizes Richard Nixon
A federal judge on Friday denied a motion by Stone's lawyers and said he had to report to jail next week
A federal judge on Friday denied a motion by Stone's lawyers and said he had to report to jail next week
Stone stressed his faith in an online interview Friday, when he said he did not want a pardon but sought to avoid jail
Stone stressed his faith in an online interview Friday, when he said he did not want a pardon but sought to avoid jail

In a separate interview with radio host Howie Carr, the president condemned Stone's 'horrible' treatment at the hands of law enforcement, and once again added he may grant his clemency plea.
'He was framed. He was treated horrible. He was treated so badly,' Trump said. 
A jury convicted the former strategist of seven felony counts in November, which included five counts of making false statements to the FBI and congressional investigators, one count of witness tampering, and one obstruction of justice count.
According to prosecutors, Stone lied during testimony and failed to turn over documents to Congress in 2017, showing he had attempted to make contact with the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks a year earlier.
He lied about five facts, obscuring his attempt to use intermediaries to get information that could help then-candidate Trump in the election against Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors were initially seeking a prison term of seven to nine years, but Attorney General William Barr later retracted that recommendation shortly after Trump called it 'harsh' and 'unfair' on Twitter.

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