Roger Stone, the Republican operative whose prison sentence was commuted by President Trump on Friday, said Monday that the action saved his life by allowing him to avoid incarceration in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m 67 years old. I’ve had a lifelong respiratory problem. I was facing what I really believe was a near death sentence,” Stone said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Stone, Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller on charges relating to interference with Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and convicted in November, 2019. He was sentenced to 40 months and was due to report to federal prison this week.
Stone’s lawyer David Schoen, who also appeared on the broadcast, seconded Stone’s claim.
“The president saved a life here,” Schoen said.
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who was serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison sentence, also on charges brought by Mueller, was released from jail in May owing to fears he might contract COVID-19 behind bars.
Evidence at his trial and congressional testimony portrayed Stone as a conduit between the campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who disseminated emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee by Russian intelligence. Before and after his trial, Stone had boasted about his loyalty to Trump and his refusal to “flip” on him, leading to widespread speculation that he was being rewarded for his silence.
Hannity turned that claim around, asking Stone whether prosecutors had attempted to get him to feed them “certain things” regardless of “whether they were true or not.”
Stone took aim at Justice Department prosecutor Jeanie Rhee, who he said harbored political bias against him.
“She made it very clear to one of my lawyers,” Stone said, “after a hearing she asked to see him privately, that if I would re-remember certain phone conversations I had with candidate Trump, if I would come clean, if I would confess that they might be willing to, you know, recommend leniency to the judge. Perhaps I wouldn’t even serve any jail time. And I didn’t have to think about it very long, I said absolutely not.”
In an op-ed published Saturday in the Washington Post, Mueller, who has rarely spoken publicly about his probe, noted that a jury agreed with his conclusion that Stone had “lied repeatedly to members of Congress.”
“He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases,” Mueller wrote. “He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.”
Hours before Stone’s Monday appearance on Fox News, Judge Amy Berman Jackson requested a copy of Trump’s executive order commuting his sentence to determine whether it absolved him of conditions of his two-year probationary period. The Trump administration complied, confirming that the president had commuted his probation requirements and a $20,000 fine imposed as part of his sentence.
Throughout Hannity’s interview with Stone, both the host and his guest decried what they both saw as a rigged system. Hannity concluded that Stone had been “preyed on by politically motivated prosecutors” and echoed Trump about the “the Robert Mueller witch hunt.”
Stone said that in light of the commutation of his sentence said he was considering dropping his appeal of his conviction. But he was scathing about the legal system that convicted him.
“I had a biased judge. I had a stacked jury,” Stone asserted, “I had a corrupt jury forewoman.”