Lately, Friday night seems to be when the bombshells come out of the White House and this week was no different.
Early Friday evening, President Donald Trump issued a clemency order for friend and ally Roger Stone, who was convicted of charges related to obstruction of Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation in November 2019.
Trump gives the order
Ever since Stone lost his appeal to delay reporting to prison, clemency or an outright pardon from Trump has been one of the most hotly debated topics. On Friday, rumors started to surface that with Stone due to report to prison on Tuesday, Trump had already decided; it was just a matter of making the official announcement.
The Executive Grant of Clemency was issued later Friday evening, letting Stone off the hook for the sentences on all charges he had been convicted of as a result of having been targeted by the Mueller investigation. Stone, 67, was facing a 40-month prison sentence.
Trump, knowing full well this was a political hot potato, justified the order by saying Stone was a victim of the Democrat “witch hunt” and never should have been investigated in the first place.
“Mr. Stone, like every American, deserves a fair trial and every opportunity to vindicate himself before the courts. The President does not wish to interfere with his efforts to do so,” a statement from the White House press secretary read. “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. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!” the statement concluded.
How this will all play out…
There really is no middle ground on this issue and the line in the sand has already been drawn.
The negative to this is that Trump has given the Democrats and the media exactly what they wanted to go after him again for corruption. House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) has already said that she is going to put together legislation that would never again allow a sitting president to pardon or commute the sentence of someone convicted on charges of “covering up” for the president.
This is exactly why many Trump supporters wanted him to wait until at least after the election, but an argument can now be made that Trump got exactly what he wanted.
Secondly, Trump’s main base is going to love this move because it is classic Trump, thumbing his nose at both Democrats and the Mueller investigation.
But the move risks putting off some moderate Democrats, Republicans, and Independent voters that have yet to make up their mind on who they are going to vote for. This was a HUGE gamble by Trump and one that could end his run for re-election just as quickly as it could reignite the fire under his base. In about four months, we will know whether it was a risk worth taking.