President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that he is “looking at” pardoning Roger Stone, as he continued to build suspense over whether he will intervene on behalf of his former aide and longtime confidant before he is scheduled to report to prison next week.
Trump was asked about the prospect of issuing a pardon to Stone, who was convicted in a trial last year of lying to Congress and witness tampering, as the president left the White House en route to Florida for a series of events.
“Well, I’ll be looking at it,” Trump said. “I think Roger Stone was very unfairly untreated, as were many people.”
Trump’s latest remarks followed comments in a pair of interviews Thursday that suggested he is leaning in the direction of a pardon.
In a radio interview, host Howie Carr told Trump that Stone had recently said he is “praying” for a pardon.
“If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered,” Trump said. “Let’s see what happens.” Trump added that he considers Stone a “good person” and said that he was “treated so badly” by prosecutors.
In another interview Thursday on Fox News, Trump told host Sean Hannity that he’s “always thinking” when asked if he was thinking about a pardon or commutation.
“You’ll be watching like everyone else in this case,” Trump added.
Stone, 67, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison for making false statements about his attempts to get details from Hillary Clinton’s private emails from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, then intimidating a friend who could contradict his story.
He has been ordered to report to prison by Tuesday. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson had given Stone a two-week delay to quarantine before traveling from South Florida to the prison in Jessup, Ga. But she denied the two-month reprieve that Stone had requested with prosecutors’ assent.
With the date for Stone to report looming, speculation has ratcheted up about a Trump pardon and the potential political impact for him of doing so ahead of the November election.
Asked about Trump’s intentions earlier Friday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said she would not get ahead of her boss.
“I’ll let the president make any announcements that he has on any type of pardon or commutation of sentence for anyone,” she said.
As for the politics of a pardon, Conway said, “I don’t know that most voters are paying attention to that particular issue.”
(c) 2020, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Rachel Weiner