Donald Trump Defends Commuting Roger Stone's Sentence, Blames 'Illegal Witch Hunt'

President Donald Trump got on Twitter early on Saturday morning to defend his decision to commute Roger Stone's sentence. The president came under heavy criticism on Friday when the White House announced that Trump was commuting Stone's sentence just days before the criminal was meant to enter prison. Trump justified it by reiterating his claim that the impeachment investigation was a "Witch Hunt."

"Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place," the president tweeted on Saturday morning. "It is the other side that are criminals, including Biden and Obama, who spied on my campaign - AND GOT CAUGHT!" This tweet was the president's first public comment on commuting Stone's sentence after his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, announced the decision on Friday night.

McEnany issued a statement saying that Trump had decided to commute Stone's sentence at the last minute because he believed his former adviser had "already suffered greatly. He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!" According to a report by Deadline, McEnany noted that this decision was made "particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial."

Critics fired back at both McEnany's public announcement and Trump's tweet on Saturday morning. So far, the above tweet has been Trump's only direct comment on Stone, though he did spent Saturday morning posting commentary on many of the weekend's issues. He also appears to have retweeted nearly every single one of his own posts from Friday, including criticisms of his political rivals on a number of fronts.

Stone was convicted of lying to the U.S. Congress and of witness tampering in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for the crimes and has been appealing the case since February.

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Trump commuted Stone sentence just hours after a U.S. appeals court denied Stone's emergency request for a delay to the start of his term, on the grounds that he would be at extreme risk of catching COVID-19. However, Trump has been an outspoken critic of Stone's arrest and sentencing in general, calling it a "miscarriage of justice."

Back in May, another person convicted during the impeachment trial, Paul Manafort, was released from prison over coronavirus fears as well. Many critics argue that Trump's sympathy for Manafort and Stone represents a double-standard, as the president pushes hard for schools to reopen in the fall despite the pandemic.