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GOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake'

Republican Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (Pa.) said Saturday that President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden Biden, Trudeau agree to meet next month Trump planned to oust acting AG to overturn Georgia election results: report MORE’s decision to commute the prison sentence of Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneWould Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump's pardons harshly criticized by legal experts Presidential pardons need to go MORE “is a mistake.”

“The president clearly has the legal and constitutional authority to grant clemency for federal crimes,” Toomey said in a statement. “However, this authority should be used judiciously and very rarely by any president.”

Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, was convicted of lying to Congress in connection with its investigation into Russia's election interference, witness tampering and obstructing an official proceeding. The Russia investigation, which Trump and his allies have routinely called a “hoax,” did not conclude that Trump's campaign conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election but detailed a series of contacts and found the campaign welcomed Russia's efforts.

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“While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake,” Toomey said, adding that Stone was “duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee.”

Toomey noted that in a July 8 interview, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBudowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Two-thirds say the election was fair: poll The Hill's Morning Report - An inauguration like no other MORE said he thought Stone’s prosecution was “righteous” and “appropriate" and that the sentence he received was “fair.” Barr reportedly advised against the move. 

“Any objections to Mr. Stone’s conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process,” Toomey said.

Democrats immediately blasted Trump for the decision on Friday. Before Toomey’s statement Saturday, the only other GOP Senator to criticize the decision was Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds GOP senators say only a few Republicans will vote to convict Trump For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (Utah), who called it “historic corruption.”

Romney, unlike Toomey, has a history being critical of the president and was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump on impeachment charges during the Senate impeachment trial.