Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller condemned the commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence in a blistering op-ed defending the case against him after President Donald Trump abused his power to help his longtime friend.
Stone had been found guilty by a federal jury of obstructing investigations of Russian interference during the 2016 Election conducted by Congress and the FBI. He was set to begin his prison sentence on July 14th, but Trump swooped in at the last moment to commute Stone’s sentence, just as Stone wanted him to do.
In a rare public statement, Mueller spoke out against the commutation in an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he defended the case against Stone.
“The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself,” Mueller said. “But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”
Indeed, the main reason Trump has given for his decision to commute the sentence is because he believes Mueller framed Stone. That’s not the case. In fact, it’s slander against a respected former FBI director, Justice Department prosecutor and Vietnam War hero.
“Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy,” Mueller continued. “It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign.”
Stone was the middleman in all of this as he had communication with Wikileaks and the Trump campaign and coordinated the release of Clinton’s stolen emails.
“Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone,” Mueller pointed out. “A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.”
“The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness,” Mueller concluded. “Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.”
Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence should be reversed by the next president so that Stone will have to serve out his punishment for his crimes. And then Trump himself should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for abusing his power.
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