WASHINGTON - A U.S. judge in Washington on Monday ordered the government to explain the scope of President Donald Trump's commutation of the 40-month prison sentence she had imposed on his friend Roger Stone for political corruption.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered the parties in the case to produce Trump's executive order by Tuesday which he signed late last week to keep the 67-year-old Stone from reporting to prison on Tuesday.
Berman said she wants to see whether the commutation also covered a provision requiring Stone to report for two years of supervised probation after what would have been his term in prison.
The commutation Trump granted Stone, a longtime political adviser, freed him from the prison term but did not wipe out his underlying convictions on seven charges, including witness tampering and lying to federal authorities linked to the lengthy investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election won by Trump.
Trump, who long has dismissed allegations that Russia helped him win as "fake news," said he commuted Stone's sentence because Stone had been "treated very unfairly." The president blamed the jury forewoman and Jackson, saying Stone "should have had another trial."
Prominent U.S. political figures have condemned Trump's commutation of Stone's prison sentence, saying it was a perversion of American justice.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who oversaw impeachment proceedings against Trump late last year, said Trump's decision "is basically saying through this commutation, 'If you lie for me, if you cover up for me, if you have my back, then I will make sure that you get a get-out-of-jail-free card.'"
"Other Americans? Different standard," Schiff said. "Friends of the president, accomplices of the president, they get off scot-free."
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 presidential election to former President Barack Obama, called Trump's commutation of Stone's sentence "unprecedented, historic corruption. An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president."
The clemency for Stone was only the 36th Trump has granted, with 180 denied. Many of those granted by Trump have been to his political supporters or suggested by people he knows, rather than being processed through normal pardon procedures overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.
At the same points in their presidencies, 3½ years after taking office, Trump's six predecessors acted on hundreds or thousands of petitions for clemency.