President Donald Trump slammed a double standard that allowed former FBI Director James Comey and other foes to evade prosecution while Roger Stone, his friend, was punished for the same sort of crimes.
At an event in Las Vegas on Thursday, Trump teased a pardon for Stone after he was sentenced to 40 months in prison for obstruction crimes originating in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Trump went on to slam Stone’s treatment as unfair and targeted an allegedly biased juror in Stone’s case, even as he maintained that he would let Stone’s request for a retrial work its way through the system.
“I’m following this very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion,” he said, according to ABC News. “I’d love to see it happen.”
Trump slams double standard
Stone was sentenced to nearly three and a half years in prison on Thursday for his convictions of lying to Congress and witness tampering in relation to Mueller’s probe, which Trump has often decried as a “witch hunt.” Amid speculation of a pardon, Trump made it clear in the hours afterward that he was not satisfied with Stone’s punishment and that clemency may be forthcoming.
The president riffed on familiar complaints about a double standard in which Trump allies are zealously prosecuted while insiders of the “Swamp,” like James Comey and his former deputy, Andrew McCabe, get slaps on the wrist for criminal offenses.
“They say that he lied. But you had other people who lied too,” Trump said. “Just to mention — Comey lied. McCabe lied. Lisa Page lied. Her lover, Strzok, Peter Strzok, lied.”
Comey was not charged despite getting a firm rebuke from the DOJ’s internal watchdog last year for leaking memos of his private conversations with Trump to the press. The DOJ’s decision to drop its case against McCabe for lying about leaks last week made for a telling contrast with what looked to many like an excessive punishment for Stone.
While declining to commit to a pardon, Trump publicly attacked the prosecutors, judge, and jury in Stone’s trial. Trump faced accusations of intervening in the case after the Justice Department moved to lighten the recommended nine-year sentence for Stone amid his tweets, prompting the four prosecutors on the case to quit.
Stone saga drags on
Democrats and their allies in the media have raised a furor over what they call a conspiracy by Trump and Attorney General William Barr to subvert the rule of law and turn the DOJ into a political arm of the White House — but Trump and many of his supporters maintain that it is Stone who is the victim of political interference, by high-handed prosecutors on a “witch hunt’ to get Trump, or his associates, at any cost. Even before his conviction, many pointed to the pre-dawn raid on Stone’s home last year as a show of excessive force by the Mueller team.
The president said that the famously flamboyant Stone is “definitely a character” but was a “very good person,” even as he sought to distance him from his campaign. He added that he will let the process “play out” as Stone awaits Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s decision on his motion for a retrial. Stone filed the motion after evidence emerged that the head juror on the case had sent anti-Trump and anti-Stone tweets, including tweets mocking the raid on Stone and celebrating his guilty conviction.
“It’s my strong opinion that the forewoman for the jury is totally tainted,” Trump said.
Amid speculation of a pardon, Trump foe Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is already warning that Trump will have committed a “breathtaking act of corruption” if he lets Stone go. But the real corruption is that a man is facing prison time for being friends with a president that the Democrats and the media personally dislike. Such is “justice” in the Swamp.