Of all the prosecutions to come out of the Russia collusion hoax and the special counsel investigation it spawned, Roger Stone’s was, arguably, the most purely political – or, at least, it was on a par with the trial of Michael Flynn for that dubious honor. Though he was a longtime associate of President Donald Trump, Stone had always operated out of self-interest and personal aggrandizement. He was undoubtedly less than honest about several matters. For that reason, perhaps, Trump did not pardon Stone but did, on the evening of July 10, commute his prison sentence.
A Political Trial
Stone’s trial reeked of political animus from the very beginning. Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who presided over the criminal proceeding, said that Stone “was not prosecuted for standing up for the president, he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” How, exactly, Stone covered up for Trump was never made clear.
To labor the point that Stone was not being persecuted for his association with Trump, Jackson added that he “will not be sentenced for who his friends are, or who his enemies are.” With those words, one is reminded of Queen Gertrude – from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet – saying: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
The ferocity with which Stone was persued almost defies belief. His arrest, during a night-time raid on his house, more resembled the Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound than it did the routine arrest of an elderly, unarmed man for the crime – his real crime – of being on the “wrong” side of the political divide.
The commutation of Stone’s sentence comes just days before the 68-year-old was due to begin a 40-month prison term for lying to Congress, witness-tampering, and obstruction of justice. It is worth noting that if lying to Congress and obstruction of justice always resulted in jail-time, then several senior members of the previous administration would already have been locked up. Sharing cells with them would be a great many members of Congress, in fact. In a statement, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said:
“Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump presidency. There was never any collusion between the Trump campaign, or the Trump administration, with Russia.”
The Wikileaks Hoax
As sure as the sun rising in the east, Democrats will be outraged by Trump’s move. Congressional hearings may already be in the cards. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who leads the House Intelligence Committee, was quick to register his displeasure. Schiff – who spent two years claiming to have “more than circumstantial evidence” that Trump had conspired with the Russians, but never produced it – said in a statement that the president’s decision “is among the most offensive to the rule of law and principles of justice.”
The congressman went on to claim that Stone had attempted “to cover up an effort by President Trump and his campaign to secretly communicate with Wikileaks and exploit its release of Russian-hacked emails targeting his opponent.” There is no evidence that Trump or any member of his 2016 campaign attempted to establish any lines of communication with Wikileaks, secret or otherwise.
Certainly, Trump’s campaign showed a passing interest in what Wikileaks may have had on Hillary Clinton. That is the nature of political campaigns. The Clinton team was at the time funneling money to a former British spy to obtain dirt on Trump from the Russians. Yet, not a single former member of Clinton’s campaign has been arrested – or even seriously investigated.
Roger Stone will not see the inside of a prison cell, but his life has been forever damaged. As Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor, Scott Cosenza, explains:
“A pardon legally restores the recipient to that of someone who has never been convicted, while a commutation deals solely with their sentence and perhaps fines imposed. While Roger Stone will not have to serve his sentence, he will still be a convicted felon, with the many challenges that mark carries. He will never be allowed to legally possess a firearm, for example, or vote in many places.”
In light of the current unrest across America – much of which has to do with injustices, real and perceived, within the legal system, Cosenza makes another interesting observation: “The consequences of being a felon in our society are bothersome enough that relieving them has become a focus of many out marching in the streets for justice, today.”
In reality, Stone likely knew far less about what Wikileaks had or what that organization was planning to release than he reveled in telling everyone. His grandiose predictions about what devastating information the American public would learn about Hillary Clinton did not amount to much. When all is said and done, Stone was a bit player, not a master criminal. Still, Democrats were hoping to watch him die in prison – as he likely would have – for no other reason than that he was an associate of a president they cannot stand.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.