Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence, days before prison term set to begin

The White House announced Friday that President Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency commuting the "unjust sentence"  of Roger Stone, just days before the longtime political operative is slated to report to prison to serve more than three years for charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Earlier Friday, an appeals court denied Stone's request to delay reporting for his sentence, saying he must report for prison on Tuesday.

"In sum, Stone is not legally eligible for further postponement of his reporting date under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c), which is the only basis on which he seeks relief from this court. We therefore deny his motion," the court wrote in its order.

The president, as recently as Friday morning, has said he was "looking at" offering Stone clemency, saying he was "very unfairly treated."

Stone was set to report to prison on July 14 to serve 40 months. He was sentenced in February to more than three years in prison after being convicted in November 2019 on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges that stemmed from Mueller’s investigation. Stone, however, has appealed his conviction and continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Trump, for weeks, has signaled he could be open to granting Stone clemency — tweeting 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!”

During an exclusive interview with Fox News this week, Stone said he was “praying” for Trump to intervene.

FILE - Roger Stone, former adviser and confidante to U.S. President Donald Trump, leaves the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia after being sentenced February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC.

When asked whether he’d prefer a pardon or a commutation of his sentence, Stone said “either one obviously would have an effect, in my opinion, of saving my life.”

A presidential pardon completely absolves an individual of the crime he or she is found to have committed. A commutation lessens the punishment or eliminates jail time, but leaves the conviction standing.

“I have deep concerns about going to a prison where there absolutely is COVID virus, and, therefore, either one would have an effect of saving my life," Stone said.

He added: “If I should be fortunate enough to get a commutation, I would continue to fight for vindication.”

As of Thursday evening, Stone said he had not received any formal communication from the White House on a potential pardon or commutation of his sentence.

I think I’ll be the last person to know,” Stone told Fox News. “He hates leaks, and he hates to be told what to do. I have instructed my lawyers not to contact the lawyers at the White House.”

“The president, who I’ve known for 40 years, has an incredible sense of fairness. He is aware that the people trying to destroy Michael Flynn, now trying to destroy me, are the people trying to destroy him," Stone said.

He added: "I certainly think it could happen. I’m not going to second-guess the president.”

Stone was not charged with any underlying crime of coordinating with Russia during the 2016 presidential election, though Mueller’s team investigated Stone over tweets claiming to have information about WikiLeaks document dumps prior to their release.

When asked whether Stone felt WikiLeaks influenced the 2016 election, he said: “Yes. All of it.”

“My whole purpose in hyping Wikileaks on Twitter was to make sure the media didn’t sweep it under the rug, only because I was told it was politically significant,” Stone said of his tweets in 2016, which he said were “not specific,” and simply flagged that a WikiLeaks document dump “would be big” and was coming.

“I never discussed it with Trump. I have no idea what he thought about it, we never discussed it,” Stone said. “You have to understand something about Donald Trump—when you talk to him on the phone, he talks and you listen. That’s kind of the way it works.”

When asked whether Stone had any regrets over his involvement in 2016, he said no.

“I engaged in legitimate, perfectly legal political activity which Mueller’s corrupt investigation chose to criminalize,” Stone said. “I thought the results of the 2016 election were crucial.”

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Facebook announced it had removed a network of accounts on the platform and on Instagram allegedly linked to Stone. The company said the accounts were allegedly involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior in the United States.” The networks, according to Facebook, were focused on domestic audiences.

Facebook said it “identified the full scope” of the networks “following the recent public release of search warrants pertaining to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in response to a joint petition from The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Politico.”

“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said Wednesday.

Stone, however, denied being linked to the accounts, calling Facebook's accusations “defamatory,” and said he did not think it was “coincidental” that they made the announcement this week.

“They’ll have a chance to prove it. Words on a press release are assertions and accusations. It is false,” Stone said. “It is put up or shut up time very soon. They’ll get a chance to show me the illegitimate sites. They don’t exist. I don’t own hundreds of Facebook pages and I never have.”

“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said Wednesday.

Stone, however, denied being linked to the accounts, calling Facebook's accusations “defamatory,” and said he did not think it was “coincidental” that they made the announcement this week.

“They’ll have a chance to prove it. Words on a press release are assertions and accusations. It is false,” Stone said. “It is put up or shut up time very soon. They’ll get a chance to show me the illegitimate sites. They don’t exist. I don’t own hundreds of Facebook pages and I never have.”