Roger Stone has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back. But it’s the current president, Donald Trump, who had Stone’s back when on Friday he granted a commutation of the 40-month sentence his friend was facing for lying during the Russian investigation.
In doing so, Trump turned his back on the justice system and, ultimately, the American people by shamelessly shielding Stone, a felon convicted of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and for intimidating a witness.
Even Attorney General William Barr, who often wrongly acts more like Trump’s personal attorney rather than the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, called Stone’s prosecution “righteous” and the final sentence “fair” (after working to reduce the length of it, that is).
Other, more principled Republicans were blunt about what can only be seen as a presidential protection racket. Robert Mueller, who hearkens back to an era when “law and order” was a governing guidepost, not a Nixon or Trump campaign slogan, broke his long silence in a Washington Post commentary.
The investigation, Mueller wrote, was of “paramount importance” because “Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy.” Stone’s crimes — and in fact, they remain crimes of which he is not absolved — were a direct threat to the electoral process, the DNA of our democracy.
Criminals such as Stone endanger justice itself. It was “critical,” Mueller wrote, for Congress and the Justice Department to obtain accurate information. “When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.”
Mueller’s patient, painstaking explanation contrasts starkly with Trump’s claim that Stone was treated “very unfairly.” On the contrary, it’s Americans who were treated unfairly by Stone, and by a president buying his silence.
— Star Tribune (Minneapolis)