Donald Trump is coming under fire for his decision to commute the prison sentence of former campaign aide Roger Stone, with one Democratic operative saying that Trump has now done more to help his friend evade justice than to protect American troops from Russia’s reported bounties.
As NBC News reported, the White House on Friday announced that it would be commuting Stone’s sentence after he was convicted of lying to investigators and intimidating a witness. An official statement from the White House claimed that Stone had “suffered greatly” and was “treated very unfairly” by prosecutors.
Trump had given hints that he was planning to intervene on behalf of Stone, who had been a longtime political adviser of his, dating back to before his run for president. The statement on Friday painted his prosecution as part of what Trump regularly referred to as a “hoax” that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
“Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency,” the statement read.
The report from NBC News noted that some of Trump’s advisers had warned against intervening, saying it could hurt his re-election chances. The decision has already led to criticism from many on the left, including former Obama White House veteran and Democratic operative Andrew Weinstein.
Weinstein took to Twitter to blast Trump for moving quickly to keep Stone out of prison while not acting on intelligence that Russia had been offering bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. soldiers.
“Donald Trump has now officially done more to help Roger Stone evade justice than he’s done to protect our troops from being targeted by Vladimir Putin,” Weinstein wrote.
Trump had cast doubt on the intelligence behind the alleged Russian bounties, suggesting that the New York Times may have fabricated evidence for the story. But it appears that the intelligence is legitimate, as both Republican and Democratic lawmakers had been briefed on the allegations. Trump has yet to respond to the allegations, despite calls from lawmakers for him to condemn Russia or take some kind of action.
Trump has long been criticized for what many see as a too-cozy relationship with Russia, including backing Putin’s assertion that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election despite a consensus from the American intelligence from the community that there was interference.