Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller seemingly pushed back against President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the prison sentence of Roger Stone, who was convicted of witness tampering, lying to Congress, and obstructing a Congressional investigation.
While Mueller does not directly address the Trump administration, the former special counsel writes in a Washington Post op-ed that he is responding “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.”
“We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election,” writes Mueller later in the op-ed. “The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them.”
While the former special counsel maintains that the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities,” he notes that his team determined the Trump campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
In a statement Friday evening, the White House referred to Stone as the victim of a collusion hoax “that was perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”
“As it became clear that these witch hunts would never bear fruit, the Special Counsel’s Office resorted to process-based charges leveled at high-profile people in an attempt to manufacture the false impression of criminality lurking below the surface. These charges were the product of recklessness borne of frustration and malice. This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr. Stone,” said the Trump administration.
“Because no such evidence exists, however, they could not charge him for any collusion-related crime. Instead, they charged him for his conduct during their investigation,” added the Trump administration on Friday.
In The Washington Post op-ed, Mueller also outlines Stone’s alleged conduct that led to the charges, in more detail.
“A jury later determined [Stone] 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,” writes Mueller.
“Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts,” writes Mueller.
“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false,” he concluded.
Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have spoken out against Trump’s decision to issue a commutation to Stone, who was supposed to begin his 40-month prison sentence later this month.
“While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake,” said Toomey, reports CNN correspondent Manu Raju.
“He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee,” he said, later adding, “Any objections to Mr. Stone’s conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process.”
Toomey: “He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee…. Any objections to Mr. Stone’s conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 11, 2020
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Romney took to Twitter and said the commutation was, by its nature, an abuse of power: “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.”
Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 11, 2020
The White House, in addition to questioning the nature of the investigation, observed that Stone has maintained his innocence — and “expects to be fully exonerated” in a new trial — and that he would be “put at serious medical risk in prison.”
While the statement maintains that the president does not wish to become involved in Stone’s efforts to receive a fair trial, or to interfere in his chance to “vindicate himself before the courts,” the Trump administration ultimately concludes that the circumstances warrant his commutation.
“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. Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” said the Trump administration. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”
Grant Smith, an attorney for Stone, said that “Mr. Stone is incredibly honored that President Trump used his awesome and unique power under the Constitution of the United States for this act of mercy,” according to The New York Times.