By Robert A. Vella
It was certainly no surprise; but, on another cowardly Friday night maneuver, President Trump rebuffed his own advisors (see: White House officials begging Trump not to pardon Roger Stone — but conservative allies are egging him on) by commuting the prison sentence of political dirty trickster Roger Stone. Since his ally was resoundingly convicted on felony charges central to the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia – through WikiLeaks – to commit election fraud in 2016, the President has “stoned” justice in America once again. It’s another disturbing example of just how corrupt and criminal Donald Trump is and always has been.
In a revealing moment of candor, Stone essentially admitted that Trump was complicit in the email hacking operation – which hammered the final nail into the coffin of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy – and that Trump committed a federal crime by lying to the Mueller investigation about his knowledge of it. Although I don’t expect this to happen, Stone’s admission does open the door for the Department of Justice to prosecute Trump after he leaves office. Regardless, I suspect that Trump will face an array of legal troubles if he is defeated in November.
Meanwhile, Trump’s Himmler-esque Attorney General William Barr has replaced another top U.S. Attorney – this time at the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) – with a lackey who is expected to protect Trump and his inner circle from criminal investigations. However, such authoritarian administrative purges will not shield Trump and Republicans from public backlash over their egregious mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic which is rapidly turning into a national disaster.
WASHINGTON — President Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. on seven felony crimes on Friday, using the power of his office to help a former campaign adviser days before Mr. Stone was to report to a federal prison to serve a 40-month term.
Mr. Stone, 67, a longtime Republican operative, was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation into Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign and has been openly lobbying for clemency, maintaining that he could die in prison and emphasizing that he had stayed loyal to the president rather than help investigators.
“He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him,” Mr. Stone told the journalist Howard Fineman on Friday shortly before the announcement. “It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.”
Mr. Stone has been one of the most colorful figures in American politics for decades, cheerfully engaging in dirty tricks that others would disavow.
Mr. Stone was convicted last year of obstructing a congressional inquiry into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Prosecutors convinced jurors that he lied under oath, withheld a trove of documents and threatened an associate with harm if he cooperated with congressional investigators.
On August 4, 2016, Stone told listeners to a paid conference call that Julian Assange would continue to release information “that is going to roil this race.”
On August 8, he told a Republican group that he had been in contact with Assange, and more drops were coming.
On August 21, he tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel,” evidently referencing the then-forthcoming cache of emails phished by Russian intelligence from John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
On October 2, a Sunday, he tweeted that the next WikiLeaks dump would come on Wednesday.
When Wednesday came and went with no dump, Stone tweeted, “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Payload coming #Lockthemup.” Stone reaffirmed his prediction on Thursday. The dump came Friday, October 7.
Stone was simultaneously in communication with the Trump campaign and the candidate Donald Trump. The former Trump deputy campaign chair Rick Gates testified at Stone’s trial in November 2019 that he witnessed Trump take a call from Stone after the first WikiLeaks release in July. Less than a minute after the call ended, Trump told Gates that another release would follow later in the campaign.
WASHINGTON – Weeks before President Donald Trump accepts his party’s nomination, cracks are deepening within the party as a host of GOP lawmakers distance themselves from the Republican standard bearer as they weigh their election chances in November.
Republicans have increasingly split with Trump on a host of issues shadowing his administration, from his tone on racism and the removal of Confederate statues, to wearing a face mask amid the coronavirus pandemic and questions over intelligence reports of a Russia-backed bounty program on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
It’s a rare moment in the president’s three-and-a-half-year tenure, during which Trump otherwise relished in party unity on issues such as his impeachment and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
With rising Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations sending many states backward in their reopening plans, one health expert warns that if the US continues on its current path it will reach “one of the most unstable times in the history of our country.”
“We will have hospitals overwhelmed and not only in terms of ICU beds and hospitals — and that’s bad — but exhausted hospital staff and hospital staff that’s getting ill themselves,” Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of tropical medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN Friday night. “So, we won’t have enough manpower, human power, to manage all of this.”
Only five states are seeing a decrease of at least 10% in average new daily cases over the past week. And the US set a record for the highest single day of new cases for the second time this week with 66,627 cases on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The resurgence has many local leaders returning to actions taken in March and April to slow the spread of the virus.
At least 26 states have paused or rolled back their plans to reopen.