Trump commutes confidant Roger Stone’s prison sentence

Roger Stone, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Feb. 20, 2020.  Prosecutors initially asked for seven to nine years in prison. Attorney General William Barr rejected that recommendation after Trump criticized it on Twitter for being too harsh. Instead, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson took Barr’s recommendation of 40 months. She also fined Stone $20,000.  Stone’s lawyers asked for probation, citing his age, health and lack of criminal history.  Stone

President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the sentence for Roger Stone, his longtime political confidant. The sentence was commuted days before Stone was set to begin his 40-month prison sentence for witness tampering and lying to Congress.

Trump indicated Friday morning he was considering a pardon on the White House lawn during a brief encounter with reporters.

Stone was convicted in November on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election.

»MORE: Who is Roger Stone, what links him to Trump?

The Democrat-led House of Representatives eventually impeached Trump, but the Senate, under GOP control, acquitted him.

Prosecutors initially asked for seven to nine years in prison — but Attorney General William Barr retracted that recommendation hours after Trump criticized it on Twitter for being too harsh.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson took Barr’s recommendation of 40 months in sentencing the president’s longtime friend. She also fined Stone $20,000 and continued a gag order, prohibiting Stone from speaking about the case.

Explore»PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 4 lawyers who prosecuted Roger Stone quit case

Stone’s lawyers had asked for a sentence of probation, citing his age of 67 years, his health and his lack of criminal history.

Four lawyers who prosecuted Stone quit the case after the Justice Department said it would take the extraordinary step of lowering the amount of prison time it would seek for Trump’s longtime confidant.

The four attorneys, including two who were early members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia team, had made up the Justice Department’s trial team and had signed onto a court filing that recommended up to nine years in prison for Stone.

»Who are the 4 prosecutors who quit the Roger Stone case?

The department’s decision to back off the sentencing recommendation raised questions about political interference and whether Trump’s views hold unusual sway over the Justice Department, which is meant to operate independently of the White House in criminal investigations and prosecutions.

Barr has been a steady ally of Trump’s, clearing the president of obstruction of justice even when Mueller had pointedly declined to do so and declaring that the FBI’s Russia investigation — which resulted in charges against Stone — had been based on a “bogus narrative.”

Stone was the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Stone denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. He did not take the stand during his trial, and his lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defense.

Kelcie Willis with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this story.