Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Former advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, Roger Stone, leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse after being found guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election on November 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

'Trump At His Most Corrupt': President Commutes 40-Month Sentence of Longtime Ally Roger Stone

"The president whose administration had peaceful protesters pepper sprayed in the name of 'law and order' has repeatedly stepped in to make sure his cronies don't see the consequences of their actions."

Julia Conley

Government ethics watchdogs and congressional Democrats were among those outraged late Friday after President Donald Trump announced the commutation of his longtime associate Roger Stone's 40-month prison sentence, in what Democratic leaders called a "transparently corrupt" move. 

Trump announced Stone would not be reporting to prison four days before the Republican operative was set to begin his sentence, which was far shorter than the seven to nine years originally recommended by prosecutors. 

Stone was sentenced in February after being convicted of seven felony counts, including lying to Congress under oath, withholding documents pertaining to the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's communications with Russia, and threatening another witness if he cooperated with the probe. 

"By this action, President Trump abused the powers of his office in an apparent effort to reward Roger Stone for his refusal to cooperate with investigators examining the president's own conduct. No other president has exercised the clemency power for such a patently personal and self-serving purpose."
—Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who led House Democrats in impeachment hearings against Trump over his alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to aid him ahead of the 2020 election, said the commutation proves that to the president, "there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else."

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chair the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, respectively, said they would immediately seek information from the White House counsel on the circumstances surrounding the commutation and demanded the Department of Justice release materials related to Stone's communications with Trump.

"The facts are clear:  Roger Stone lied to investigators. He threatened to harm a witness to his crimes. A jury of our fellow Americans found him guilty of obstruction of justice," said Nadler and Maloney in a joint statement. "President Trump's unprecedented decision to commute the sentence of Roger Stone, an individual that could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, undermines the rule of law. By this action, President Trump abused the powers of his office in an apparent effort to reward Roger Stone for his refusal to cooperate with investigators examining the president's own conduct.  No other president has exercised the clemency power for such a patently personal and self-serving purpose."

Trump tweeted about the commutation on Saturday morning, claiming Democrats including former President Barack Obama and presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden are "criminals," rather than Stone.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) responded with a reminder that the commutation of Stone's sentence did not absolve him of his crime. 

"This is what despots do: wield the law like a weapon to attack political opponents and protect loyal cronies," tweeted Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas. "It's a disgraceful, dark day for American democracy." 

Noah Bookbinder, executive director of CREW, further pointed out that the president has repeatedly called for "law and order" during the ongoing racial justice uprising taking place across the country. 

"This is one more example of President Trump at his most corrupt and another attack on our democracy," Bookbinder said. "The president whose administration had peaceful protesters for racial justice pepper sprayed in the name of 'law and order' has repeatedly stepped in to make sure his cronies don't see the consequences of their actions. The message is clear: In Trump's America, justice doesn’t apply to rich white men who help the president."

Progressive advocacy group Stand Up America also contrasted Stone's freedom from his upcoming sentence with the long sentences and wrongful convictions faced by "far too many" black Americans.

"The commutation of Stone's prison sentence is an attack on the rule of law and an escalation of Trump's unprecedented corruption," said Sean Eldridge, Stand Up America president. "It's especially egregious in light of the systemic racism that plagues our broken criminal justice system, sending the message that white, rich, and well-connected men can escape the consequences of their crimes."

In commuting Stone's sentence, the president went against the recommendation of his own Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr reportedly warned this week that "mutiny" at the DOJ would result if the sentence was lifted. 

Barr angered former DOJ employees when he publicly overruled prosecutors' recommendation of a seven to nine year sentence for Stone, causing more than 2,000 of them to sign a letter demanding the attorney general's resignation.  

Earlier this week, CREW warned against a presidential pardon for Stone, saying that leaving him unaccountable for his crimes "months after Barr's DOJ intervened to cut his sentence would make a mockery of 'equal justice under law.'"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'Witness Intimidation. Clear as Day': Jan. 6 Panel Teases Evidence of Cover-Up Effort

"Add witness tampering to the laundry list of crimes Trump and his allies must be charged with," said professor Robert Reich.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Bombshell After Bombshell' Dropped as Jan. 6 Testimony Homes In On Trump Guilt

"Hutchinson's testimony of the deeply detailed plans of January 6 and the inaction of those in the White House in response to the violence show just how close we came to a coup," said one pro-democracy organizer.

Brett Wilkins ·


Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·


'I Don't F—ing Care That They Have Weapons': Trump Wanted Security to Let Armed Supporters March on Capitol

"They're not here to hurt me," Trump said on the day of the January 6 insurrection, testified a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo