Donald Trump commuted the 40-month prison sentence of his longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone on Friday, four days before he was slated to report to prison.
Stone was convicted in November by a Jury in Washington D.C. of lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 elections, witness tampering and obstructing congressional proceedings. He was sentenced by a judge—but he will never set foot in a jail cell.
Stone’s commutation is probably one of the least surprising acts of Trump’s presidency. Trump would oftentimes weigh in on Stone’s case, voicing his displeasure with sentencing recommendations and calling for a new trial since the judge on the case was bias. So, critics saw this coming for some time even before Trump and Barr launched their campaign to try and discredit the entire Mueller investigation. It also caps months of lobbying both privately and on Fox News on Stone’s behalf by friends and family.
But, the inevitability of the commutation doesn’t make it any less brazen. Stone was prosecuted for covering for the president of the United States. There is no other way to look at this other than a reward for not flipping on Donald Trump. A reward for not being a rat.
Because in Trump’s America, heroes like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a man who dedicated more than two decades of his life to service to this country, a Purple Heart recipient gets bullied to a point where he was forced to resign simply because he testified truthfully under oath. While Roger Stone a man who was found guilty of lying to Congress to protect the president and sentenced by a judge gets rewarded because he remained loyal.
So, what is the punishment for this extraordinarily corrupt abuse of presidential powers? Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler said in 2018: The Framers “viewed the impeachment power as a limitation on a pardon power. What that also means is if the President pardoned co-conspirators–if we concluded that he was in a conspiracy with various other people and the Russians to use foreign influence on the election., and in order to stop that investigation he issued pardons to his co-conspirators then that we are told is impeachable.”
According to Nadler, a rogue President who abuses his pardon power is grounds for impeachment. Democrats have been down that road before and it failed in the GOP Senate, due to the complicity of 52 Republican senators who continues to enable this president. Outside of impeachment, there’s very little that Democrats can do to rein in this president. His clemency power was granted to him by the constitution, so it’s final.
What should his punishment be for years of trampling on the rule of law, disdain of oversight, and corrupt abuse of power? That is for you to decide this November when you head to the polls. And your decision is final.