Senate

Romney blasts Trump's Stone commutation: 'Historic corruption'

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) on Saturday sharply condemned President Trump's commutation for longtime ally and political confidant Roger Stone, labeling it "historic corruption."

"Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president," Romney tweeted Saturday morning.

Romney, a vocal Trump critic, was one of the first Republican lawmakers to weigh in on the president's commutation for Stone, who was sentenced in February to more than three years in prison.

Stone was convicted last year of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of official proceeding. He was due to report to prison Tuesday before Trump stepped in to commute his sentence.

Some of Trump's defenders in Congress have rallied around the move, which was expected after the president spoke out in defense of Stone and as his former campaign adviser's prison term loomed.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted Friday before the commutation was announced that "in my view it would be justified" for Trump to intervene, saying, "This was a non-violent, first-time offense."

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department, called the initial FBI investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 and former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe "biased and corrupt."

Stone is the latest individual with ties to Trump to receive clemency, joining supporters such as former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and financier Michael Milken.

Democrats railed against Trump's move Friday night, accusing the president of setting up an alternate system of justice for his allies.

"The American ideal of equal justice under the law is once again being undermined by a lawless president who regards the Justice Department as his personal plaything," said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Republicans largely refrained from criticizing the commutation, instead pointing blame at the prosecutors who brought the charges against Stone in their investigation into Russian election interference.

Romney has consistently been one of the few Republicans willing to criticize the White House, famously emerging as the only GOP senator to vote for an article of impeachment against Trump earlier this year.

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