US President Donald Trump has commuted the ‘Russiagate’ sentence of Roger Stone, a political operative who briefly worked on his 2016 campaign, just as Stone was ordered to report to prison to serve time behind bars.

Commutation is not a pardon, which would have erased the conviction, and lets Stone continue the appeals process. Attorney General Bill Barr has said the conviction and sentence seemed appropriate to him.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone in February to 40 months in prison for obstruction of justice, another 18 months for witness tampering, and 12 months for making false statements to Congress – but the sentences are to run concurrently, so the maximum time  Stone would have spend behind bars is three and a half years.

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Roger Stone, former campaign adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse where he is set to be sentenced, in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2020.
Roger Stone sentenced to serve 40 months in prison

The charges stemmed from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who failed to find any evidence of the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia in the 2016 presidential election but managed to lock up several campaign aides on process crimes and unrelated charges.

Stone admitted he had promoted WikiLeaks revelations of emails obtained from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s private account, saying they were important to the election, but denied having any inside knowledge of the data dump or its contents. 

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© Reuters / Tom Brenner
Facebook bans accounts linked to Roger Stone, Proud Boys & Brazil’s Bolsonaro in fight against ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’

Earlier this week, Facebook banned Stone’s account for “inauthentic behavior.” During the trial, Judge Jackson infamously issued a “gag order” that prevented Stone from defending himself in the media. She also denied his motion for a new trial on grounds of bias, after it emerged that the jury foreperson was a Democrat activist.

In an interview with Fox News this week, Stone said that either a pardon or a commutation would have the effect of saving his life, given that he would be exposed to the coronavirus in prison. The 67-year-old veteran political operative said he was “praying” for Trump to intervene but had asked his lawyers not to contact the White House.

Trump has “an incredible sense of fairness,” Stone added. “He is aware that the people trying to destroy Michael Flynn, now trying to destroy me, are the people trying to destroy him.”

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A Trump supporter holds a sign during a court appearance of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in Washington, DC, December 18, 2018.
New evidence shows the FBI knew General Flynn was not ‘agent of Russia’ but prosecuted him anyway

General Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, was the first casualty of ‘Russiagate,’ forced to resign after less than two weeks on the job over media claims that he had lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington. He was later charged by Mueller with lying to the FBI, and despite the overwhelming evidence of FBI and prosecutorial misconduct that has since emerged, his case remains open as the federal judge refuses to agree with the Justice Department motion to drop the charges.

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Source: RT

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