President Donald Trump left a pardon open for former campaign wizard Roger Stone in an interview with CBS on Sunday.
“I have not thought about it,” Trump said. “It looks like he’s defending himself very well.”
Trump leaves door open
Stone, a longtime friend of the president, was recently arrested and charged on obstruction charges relating to Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged Russian collusion by the 2016 Trump campaign team.
Stone reacted to his arrest last month with his characteristic defiance and colorful demeanor, flashing Richard Nixon’s “V” gesture as he stepped out of the courthouse. For his part, Trump called Stone — who known for his fondness for Nixon, rakish wit, and flamboyant wardrobe — a “character.”
“Roger Stone didn’t work on the campaign, except way at the beginning long before we’re talking about,” the president said. “Roger is somebody that I’ve always liked, but a lot of people like Roger some people probably don’t like Roger, but Roger Stone’s somebody I’ve always liked. I mean, Roger’s a character.”
Stone, whose campaign experience dates back to work for Nixon, was charged two weeks ago with lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing justice in relation to Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged coordination between Stone and WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democrat emails shortly before the 2016 election, as part of Mueller’s probe of Russian election interference and collusion.
Trump denied ever talking to Stone or anyone else about WikiLeaks and the site’s hack of the Democrats. He also didn’t say whether he wants Mueller’s report to go public, saying, “That’s up to the attorney general.”
Loyalty with “guts”
Stone has pleaded not guilty. In the wake of his arrest, he renewed promises that he would never testify against Trump but has also said that he would speak honestly with Mueller about any communications he has had, including with the president.
Stone has also said that he has not discussed a pardon with Trump.
Trump praised Stone last year for having the “guts” to never testify against him, comparing the “Dark Prince” favorably with “rat” Michael Cohen.
Stone’s arrest has been widely condemned by conservatives, who agree that the armed, early-morning raid on his home by a SWAT team was an excessive use of force. Stone has also slammed Mueller’s reckless, violent prosecution of him over process charges, saying that he would have turned himself in had Mueller alerted his lawyers.