President Donald Trump said Thursday that his longtime friend and ally Roger Stone could be exonerated at some point just hours after a federal judge sentenced him to serve 40 months in prison.
“I’m not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States, I want the process play out, I think that’s the best thing to do,” the president said in Las Vegas.
“Because I’d love to see Roger exonerated and I’d love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly,” he said, adding that he “has a “very good chance of exoneration.”
Stone was convicted on all seven counts of an indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House investigation into Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election season.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said during sentencing that Stone was not being punished for his politics or allies, saying that “he was not prosecuted, as some have claimed, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
Earlier this month, the four federal prosecutors handling Stone’s case had recommended he serve between seven and nine years, prompting outrage from Trump and an intervention by Attorney General William Barr, who said he thought that was excessive.
Earlier this week, the president told reporters that he hasn’t given “any thought” to commuting Stone’s sentence, but said that “somebody has to stick up for the people.”
At the same time, the Department of Justice last week withdrew his initial recommended sentence of seven-to-nine years in prison, prompting Democrats to call for investigations and hearings.
Berman Jackson issued a stay of Stone’s sentence while she considers a request from his attorneys for a new trial after learning last week that the lead juror likely mislead prosecutors by hiding anti-Trump biases she posted to social media, including during the trial.
It’s not clear how long Berman Jackson will take before making her decision on a new trial.