Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence is even worse than it looks

It is a scheme now familiar with Trump and his administration. The president is doing or saying something totally outrageous. Everyone panics for 24 hours. And then he does another scandalous thing, and the previous scandal is forgotten or thrown aside. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Except that Stone switching must not be so quickly forgotten or replaced by the latest outrage. Because this not only represents a misuse of presidential power, but will also have long-term impacts on the way future presidents view their powers of pardon and switching.

Think about what Stone was found guilty of by a jury of his peers: seven counts, including lying to Congress about his contacts with Trump campaign officials regarding the release of a series of emails stolen from the servers of the National Democratic Committee by the Russians and subsequently posted on the WikiLeaks website.

This, from CNN’s drafting of the initial indictment presented by the office of special advocate Robert Mueller against Stone, exposes this allegation:

“On October 7, 2016, after WikiLeaks published its first series of emails from Clinton campaign president John Podesta, prosecutors said Stone received a text message from” a senior official’s associate the Trump campaign “which said” well done “. signaling that the Trump campaign was completed in the quest for a stone of dirt on the Democrats.

“The campaign associate and senior official are not named in the complaint, although the indictment describes how Stone told a reporter that what Assange had in unpublished emails was good for the Trump campaign, Stone replied, “I” d say [the high-ranking Trump Campaign official] but he doesn’t remind me “.”

“An e-mail corresponding to this formulation which was published by the New York Times shows that the official stone mentioned was Steve Bannon.

“After the October 7 news releases, Stone boasted to” senior Trump campaign officials “that he correctly predicted the data transfer, according to prosecutors.”

Stone repeatedly insisted publicly, and in his testimony to Congress, that he had not attempted to contact WikiLeaks and had not attempted to mediate between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the publication of emails, which were intended to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Then there is the fact that Stone was found guilty of trying to falsify a witness – radio talk show host Randy Credico – in the Mueller investigation, urging Credico, who Stone claimed to be his backchannel to WikiLeaks, to lie to Congressional investigators. Stone also threatened Credico if he did not do so, suggesting that he would take Credico’s therapy dog ​​- Bianca – and texting Credico “is preparing to die [expletive]. “

These are not minor crimes. Let’s be very clear what Stone did: he lied to Congress about his efforts to find out what WikiLeaks had in terms of hacked emails designed to damage Clinton. He also threatened someone – with death – unless that person lied to Congress about the nature of his role in redirecting information from WikiLeaks.

As Mueller wrote in a Washington Post editorial this weekend:

“A jury later determined [Stone] repeatedly lied to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary at WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying that he contacted the Trump campaign when WikiLeaks was released. He has in fact repeatedly updated senior campaign officials on WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him at the Stonewall Congress. “

And now Stone has been rewarded with a commutation of what was to be a 40-month prison sentence which was to begin Tuesday – not because he did not do what he was sentenced for but rather because he ) he remained loyal to Trump (“There is no circumstance under which I will give false testimony against the President,” said Stone when he was formally charged) and b) his condemnation was deeply resented rooted in Trump that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election to help him somehow invalidates his victory.

“Roger Stone is the victim of the Russian hoax that the left and its media allies have perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine Trump’s presidency,” reads the White House official statement on Stone switching. “There has never been collusion between the Trump campaign or the Trump administration with Russia. Such collusion has never been more than a fantasy of supporters unable to accept the outcome of the 2016 elections.”

(Box: From the strange capitalization to the tone of the declaration, it seems clear that Trump wrote the declaration or played a major role in its construction.)

And, not only is Stone not going to jail. He seems to be ready to spend the next four months on some sort of victory tour for Trump – a living and breathing example of how the President can triumph over what is called the “Deep State”. This victory lap begins Monday evening with an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. Stone also told Axios on Sunday that he plans to write a book “on this whole ordeal to put the myth of Russian collusion to bed once and for all” and will campaign for the president in the fall.

Great stuff, with a deeply problematic underlying message.

This message? Utah Senator Mitt Romney explained in a Saturday tweet:

“Unprecedented historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lies to protect this same president.”

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