Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller defends prosecution of Roger Stone after Trump commutation

Dave Goldiner, New York Daily News

Robert Mueller defended his prosecution of Roger Stone Saturday in a rare public statement after President Donald Trump commuted Stone’s prison sentence.

The special counsel in the Russia probe made no apologies for holding Stone to account for lying to cover up his actions to protect Trump from scrutiny in the explosive investigation.

“Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” Mueller wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece.

Mueller pushed back strongly against claims by Trump and his allies that his investigation was a “witch hunt” and that Stone was railroaded.

“I feel compelled to respond both 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,” Mueller said.

Stone was tried and convicted by a jury of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness.

Trump commuted Stone’s three-year prison sentence days before he was expected to report to prison to start serving his stint behind bars.

Mueller detailed the reasons why prosecutors zeroed in on Stone as a key figure in the shadowy dance between Russia and the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016.

He said prosecutors were 100% right to probe Stone’s role in what they discovered was an extensive effort to tip the election to Trump.

“Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He 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 wrote.

Trump infamously called on Russia to hack rival Hillary Clinton’s emails in summer 2016 and his son, Donald Trump Jr., welcomed a meeting with Russian operatives promising dirt on his Democratic rival.

Mueller’s report said the investigation did not prove a conspiracy by Trump campaign officials but did say that the campaign expected to benefit from the campaign of interference.

The special counsel emphatically refuted Trump’s claims that Stone was treated unfairly.

“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,” Mueller wrote. “Claims to the contrary are false.”

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