Democrats tore into President Trump on Friday after he commuted the prison sentence of longtime confidant Roger Stone, who was set to be behind bars for over three years starting next week.
The president’s decision marked the finale of months-long “will he, won’t he” speculation over if or how Trump would intervene in Stone’s case, but opened up another avenue of criticism for Democrats who have been pounding on the White House on an array of issues.
Stone was found guilty in 2019 of obstructing a congressional probe into Russian election interference and witness tampering and sentenced to more than three years in prison. He has denied wrongdoing and maintained that he is innocent.
“Donald Trump has abandoned the rule of law and made a mockery of our democracy. He truly is the most corrupt president in history,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Donald Trump has abandoned the rule of law and made a mockery of our democracy. He truly is the most corrupt president in history. https://t.co/GA7apdmd3Y— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 11, 2020
“President Trump has engaged in countless acts that are both self-serving and destructive to our democracy while in office, but commuting the sentence of Roger Stone, a crony who lied and obstructed our investigation to protect Trump himself, is among the most offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice,” added Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively, said in a joint statement that Trump “abused the powers of his office” to reward “an individual that could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct.”
The White House’s announcement of the commutation was not particularly surprising given Trump’s series of statements hinting he was mulling intervening in the case against Stone, and came shortly after an appeals court denied Stone’s motion to delay the start of his prison term.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement described Stone as “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,” and added that Stone was handed an “unjust” sentence.
“Mr. Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts. The President does not wish to interfere with his efforts to do so,” she said. “At this time, however, and particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the President has determined to commute his sentence.”
Democrats, however, said it was the White House that was undermining fair treatment under the law, suggesting the president was seeking to give a pass to his friends.
“The American ideal of equal justice under the law is once again being undermined by a lawless president who regards the Justice Department as his personal plaything,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“There should not be two justice systems in the U.S.—we can and we must do better,” added Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Roger Stone is a criminal who protected Trump and had his sentence commuted because of it. This is yet another example of the blatant corruption & abuse of power that pervades this administration.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 11, 2020
There should not be two justice systems in the U.S.—we can and we must do better.
Stone is just the latest individual with ties to Trump to receive clemency, joining supporters like former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and financier Michael Milken.