President Donald Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of his longtime good friend and adviser Roger Stone, sparing him from jail after he was convicted of mendacity underneath oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference within the 2016 US election.

“Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” the White House stated in an announcement. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!”

Stone, 67, was scheduled to report by Tuesday to a federal jail in Jesup, Georgia, to start serving a sentence of three years and 4 months for mendacity underneath oath to US lawmakers investigating Russian interference within the 2016 US election.

A commutation doesn’t erase a legal conviction as a pardon does.

The veteran Republican political operative’s friendship with Trump dates again a long time.

Stone was amongst a number of Trump associates charged with crimes in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that documented Russian interference within the 2016 race to spice up Trump’s candidacy.

In saying its clemency choice for Stone, the White House took purpose at Mueller’s investigation and the prosecutors who introduced the case in opposition to Stone. The White House stated Stone “is 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.”

“There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia. Such collusion was never anything other than a fantasy of partisans unable to accept the result of the 2016 election,” the White House stated.

Trump’s choice to commute Stone’s sentence marks his most assertive intervention to guard an affiliate in a legal case and his newest use of govt clemency to learn an ally.

Congressional Democrats and different critics have accused Trump of undermining the rule of legislation by publicly complaining about legal circumstances in opposition to associates together with Stone, former White House nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn and former marketing campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff condemned Trump’s motion, saying: “With this commutation, Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else.”

A Washington jury in November 2019 convicted Stone on all seven legal counts of obstruction of a congressional investigation, 5 counts of constructing false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness.

Stone was convicted for mendacity to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee about his makes an attempt to contact WikiLeaks, the web site that launched damaging emails about Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton that US intelligence officers have concluded have been stolen by Russian hackers.

The US Constitution provides a president the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” Trump’s use of this govt clemency typically has benefited allies and well-connected political figures.

He pardoned hardline former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Republican White House aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza and convicted “junk bond king” Michael Milken. He additionally commuted the jail sentence of Democratic former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who had been a contestant on Trump’s former actuality TV present.

Stone has been a fixture in American partisan battles relationship to the 1970s. Stone, a vibrant determine identified for his natty apparel, has labelled himself an “agent provocateur” and famously has the face of former President Richard Nixon tattooed on his again.

Trump repeatedly lashed out on Twitter about Stone’s case, accusing prosecutors of being corrupt, the juror forewoman of political bias and the choose of treating his good friend unfairly.

Late on Friday, the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia denied Stone’s request for a delay in reporting to jail.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham and Sonya Hepinstall)

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