President Trump told reporters at a Thursday press conference that he hopes Roger Stone will eventually be exonerated, but implied that he would refrain from immediately pardoning the political operative.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that’s the best thing to do because I’d love to see Roger exonerated.” Trump said. “I personally think he was treated very unfairly.”
Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on Thursday following his conviction for lying to investigators in the Mueller probe, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. Trump cast doubt on the charge of witness tampering during the press conference.
Trump has previously criticized the Stone trial, and has fueled speculation that he will pardon Stone. The president’s Twitter account currently features a pinned segment of Tucker Carlson Tonight, in which Carlson criticizes the case as “a shocking insult to the American tradition of equal justice” and says there are indications Trump may authorize a pardon.
The prosecution initially recommended a sentence of seven-to-nine years for Stone, but Attorney General William Barr intervened to reduce the recommended sentence, after which all four Justice Department prosecutors resigned from the case. Trump tweeted his congratulations to Barr for his actions, causing Democrats to accuse the president of tampering with the case. Barr later publicly rebuked Trump for tweeting about the case.
Before Thursday’s sentencing, the new prosecutors reverted back to the original seven-to-nine year recommendation, but Judge Amy Jackson ultimately decided on a sentence in line with Barr’s guidelines.
“Any suggestion that the prosecutors in this case did anything untoward or unethical is incorrect,” Jackson said.
“At his core, Mr. Stone is an insecure person who craves and recklessly pursues attention,” the judge added.