President Donald Trump has commuted the sentence of his former associate Roger Stone on Friday. The former political adviser, Trump mentor and frequent SNL target was just days away from beginning his prison sentence after he was convicted on charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement on Trump's decision, according to Deadline. The statement read that "particularly in light of the egregious facts and circumstances surrounding his unfair prosecution, arrest, and trial, the president has determined to commute his sentence." The statement added that "Roger Stone has already suffered greatly," and "he was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case." It closed with the declaration that "Roger Stone is now a free man!"
Stone had been sentenced to 40 months in prison back in February. The charges against him were brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team as part of the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. The commuting comes just hours after a U.S. appeals court denied Stone's emergency request for a delay to the start of his term, where he argued that he would be at risk of catching coronavirus.
Trump has been a frequent critic of Stone's arrest and sentencing, going so far as to call it a "miscarriage of justice," among other things. It's also a decision that could carry significant potential risk for the president's re-election chances, as several polls indicate he's trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Stone is now in better legal shape than another Trump associate, Michael Cohen. The president's former personal attorney was taken back into federal custody after violating numerous terms of his early release. Cohen was arrested on Thursday, which his lawyer called a surprise decision that made it seem like "the rug had been pulled out from underneath" his client.
Cohen was previously released from custody back in May and ordered to stay in his Manhattan home, according to the Bureau of Prisons. He was one of several prisoners that were released by the Department of Justice as a means to help slow the spread of coronavirus. "On May 21, 2020, Mr. Cohen was placed on furlough pending placement on home confinement," a Bureau of Prisons official said in a statement. "Today, Michael Cohen refused the conditions of his home confinement and as a result, has been returned to a BOP facility."