President Trump values loyalty but also enjoys theater, two characteristics that have Roger Stone sitting on pins and needles.
Convicted last June of seven felonies for obstructing a congressional inquiry and lying to investigators and trying to thwart the testimony of a witness, Stone now has just five days to report to a federal prison camp in Jesup, Ga. That is, unless the president intervenes.
Reached by phone while under house arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last week, Stone told RealClearPolitics that he doesn’t want to go. His age and a history of respiratory problems, he says, place him at greater risk of catching the Coronavirus, and he would like a pardon from his longtime friend and former boss.
“I guess if I had to make an appeal, it would be that on humanitarian grounds, as an act of mercy, as well as of justice, I would pray that the president uses his incredible powers of clemency,” said the president’s onetime adviser.
When RCP put that question to the president in the Oval Office during an exclusive interview this week, Trump mostly demurred but hinted that he might get involved.
“I think Roger Stone was treated very unfairly. I think he was a victim of an illegal investigation, the Mueller investigation. To me, it was totally illegal. It should have never been allowed to happen,” the president said.
“He was also a victim of a very unfair court trial,” the president added in a reference to the jury forewoman who shared posts on social media critical of Trump and his longtime political ally.
“It was a disgraceful situation that was allowed to take place. With that, you will see what I’m going to do,” the president concluded.
Trump World seems to have an opinion already. Informed rumors have been swirling that the president won’t let Stone serve time, and top allies continue to lobby for a pardon. “Roger Stone should not disproportionately bear the burden of the corrupt Mueller investigation,” Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz wrote on social media the day after RCP interviewed Trump.
It would seem that the president agrees.
“Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history,” he tweeted in June. “He can sleep well at night!”
It has not resulted in any official actions. While Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, two campaign officials convicted for various crimes connected to Trump, are serving their sentences from home because of the virus, Stone waits in limbo.
One reason a pardon may not be forthcoming or at least be delayed? Bill Barr.
The attorney general and the president are not of one legal mind when it comes to Stone, and on Wednesday Barr told ABC News that “I think the prosecution was righteous, and I think the sentence the judge ultimately gave was fair.”
This could be giving the president pause. It could also provide Stone material for future endeavors. Asked how he would spend him time in prison if Trump doesn’t intervene, Stone said he’d return to writing. “I’ve written half a book on my current experience,” he explained. But the problem, he added, is “I still don’t know the ending.”