Former FBI director and special counsel Robert Mueller lashed out in a rare op-ed in The Washington Post Saturday against President Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence on seven felonies. Stone “remains a convicted felon,” Mueller snapped.
The Russia investigation into possible collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential election was of “paramount importance,” Mueller wrote. “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”
Mueller said he was “compelled” to respond to “broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office.”
Trump has repeatedly insisted that Stone was an unfair target of a so-called illegal Russian investigation “witch hunt.” He repeated those claims Saturday.
“Roger Stone was treated horrible,” Trump told reporters (see the video above). “Roger Stone was brought into this witch hunt ... and the Mueller scam, and he was treated very unfairly.” The president claimed “people” are “very happy” that he commuted Stone’s three-year sentence days before he was to report to prison.
Trump’s action was hugely controversial, particularly since he stood to benefit if Stone kept his mouth shut, and rewarded him when he did. Stone said as much Friday to NBC journalist Howard Fineman. The president “knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him,” Stone told Fineman. “It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.”
Mueller pointed out in his op-ed that Russia’s actions interfering with the election were a “threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood.” The probe established that the “Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome,” Mueller said.
By late 2016, the FBI had “evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging” to Trump’s rival, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Mueller wrote.
“And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign,” he added.
Stone, a longtime GOP operative and Trump’s confidant and campaign adviser, became a “central figure” in the investigation, Mueller wrote.
Stone “communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers,” Mueller noted.
Stone “lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks,” Mueller wrote. He lied when he denied he had “communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. ... And he tampered with a witness,” Mueller added.
“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” he concluded. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”
Read Mueller’s entire op-ed in The Washington Post here.