Roger Stone has maintained all along that the case against him was politically motivated
US President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of his former adviser Roger Stone.The announcement came just after the Washington DC Court of Appeals denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his custodial term of 40 months.He was convicted of lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering.Stone was the sixth Trump aide found guilty on charges linked to a justice department probe that alleged Russia tried to boost the Trump 2016 campaign.The 67-year-old had been due to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, next Tuesday.What did the president say?The White House said in a statement: “Roger Stone is a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency.”It said that Department of Justice prosecutors under special counsel Robert Mueller only charged Stone out of frustration after failing to prove the “fantasy” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.”This is why the out-of-control Mueller prosecutors, desperate for splashy headlines to compensate for a failed investigation, set their sights on Mr Stone,” said the statement. The White House also suggested that the FBI had tipped off CNN about their pre-dawn raid on Stone’s house, noting that a camera crew for the cable network was on the scene to record the arrest.”Roger Stone has already suffered greatly,” the statement said. “He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!” Mr Trump had been hinting about a reprieve for Stone for months, including on Thursday night in an interview with a Fox News host.
Helping a loyal friend, critics be damnedIt’s hard to say the president’s decision to grant clemency to his long-time friend and political counsellor is surprising, but it’s still jarring. Even though the president has called the special counsel investigation that prosecuted Stone a sham and a partisan witch hunt, Stone was duly convicted of serious crimes.Meanwhile, Stone’s active lobbying for a commutation, recently saying that he could have “easily” turned on the president to avoid trial, was unseemly at best.Mr Trump is not the first president to issue controversial pardons or commutations for friends and associates, of course. Most of his predecessors, however, waited until the last days of their presidency to take such actions, as they knew the political firestorms they would generate.Mr Trump, on the other hand, seems to relish the controversy. Like much of his time in office, his actions are done with an eye toward a base that views instigating political opponents as an end to itself.While the action will be sharply criticised, at this point in the Trump presidency his critics and his allies appear pretty much set in stone. Giving Stone a reprieve won’t win Mr Trump any new support, but that’s not the point. He’s helping a loyal friend, critics be damned.
What’s the reaction?Stone told the Associated Press news agency that Mr Trump had called him earlier on Friday to let him about the commutation. The political adviser said he was celebrating in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his friends and drinking champagne.But House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff condemned Mr Trump’s clemency.”With this commutation,” said the top Democratic lawmaker, “Trump makes clear that there are two systems of justice in America: one for his criminal friends, and one for everyone else.”Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said: “Is there any power Trump won’t abuse?”Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it showed Donald Trump was the most corrupt president in history. But the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, welcomed the news, saying Roger Stone’s sentence was draconian.The president has been accused by political critics of undermining the justice system by criticising criminal cases against Stone and other former aides.Mr Trump has also publicly groused about the prosecutions of onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.What was Stone convicted of? The president’s commutation does not void a criminal conviction as a pardon does.Stone was found guilty of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that released damaging emails about Mr Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton.US intelligence officials have concluded the messages were stolen by Russian hackers.Stone had acknowledged during the 2016 campaign that he was in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.He also intimated that he knew the website would disclose more than 19,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee servers.
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Media captionTrump: ‘I’d love to see Roger Stone exonerated’Stone’s sentence fell short of an initial seven-to-nine-year recommendation from prosecutors. In a remarkable move, US Attorney General William Barr had overruled that sentencing guideline following a Trump tweet, and instead recommended a more lenient punishment.That intervention led to the entire Stone prosecution team resigning from the case.Who is Roger Stone?Stone has worked with Republicans since the 1970s and has a tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back.In the 1990s, Stone worked as a lobbyist for Mr Trump’s casino business, and later helped Mr Trump’s unsuccessful White House run in 2000.According to the Netflix documentary Get Me Roger Stone, the strategist reportedly encouraged Mr Trump to run for the presidency again.
Stone helped Donald Trump in his failed bid for the presidency in 2000
Memorial for ‘Fallen 7′ Jarheads Motorcycle Club bikers killed in 2019 crash unveiled
Two years after seven motorcyclists died in a collision with a pickup truck, a granite monument honors their memory in New Hampshire. The Jarheads Motorcycle Club, made up of U.S. Marine Corps veterans and their spouses, unveiled the memorial near the crash site on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, on Saturday. The victims of…
Two years after seven motorcyclists died in a collision with a pickup truck, a granite monument honors their memory in New Hampshire. The Jarheads Motorcycle Club, made up of U.S. Marine Corps veterans and their spouses, unveiled the memorial near the crash site on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, on Saturday. The victims of the June 21, 2019, crash were members of the club and were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 25, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, faces multiple counts of negligent homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence and reckless conduct in the crash. He’s been in jail since then and has pleaded not guilty. He faces trial later in 2021. Two years ago, seven people lost their lives in what was described as one of the worst crashes in New Hampshire’s history. Today we take take a moment, reflect and honor the seven lives that were lost. ♥ pic.twitter.com/Hlh3Pulp9S— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) June 21, 2021 In addition to their names and reference to the group as “The Fallen Seven,” the monument has the U.S. Marine Corps and Jarheads logos, along with “Never Forget.” Gov. Chris Sununu tweeted Monday, “we pause today to pay our respects to those lost too soon, their families, the survivors, and to the first responders. We will never forget.” The seven victims were: Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; and Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire.
Guard soldiers may lose training if not reimbursed for Capitol mission
The National Guard could cut training as soon as July unless Congress passes emergency legislation reimbursing the cost of the Capitol security mission, Army leadership told a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel Tuesday morning. The four-month response to the Jan. 6 riots reportedly cost more than $500 million, depleting the Guard’s operational and training funds. “Without…
The National Guard could cut training as soon as July unless Congress passes emergency legislation reimbursing the cost of the Capitol security mission, Army leadership told a Senate Appropriations Committee subpanel Tuesday morning. The four-month response to the Jan. 6 riots reportedly cost more than $500 million, depleting the Guard’s operational and training funds. “Without these resources [reimbursed], the Guard…will find themselves with training issues,” warned Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. She indicated that the force has already postponed some training and could begin cancelling training events as soon as July, due to concerns over violating federal law that bars spending in excess of the allotted budget. Wormuth’s concerns echoed those of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who told senators Thursday that a reimbursement failure will impact the Guard’s ability “in the near term to be able to train and adequately prepare.” The National Guard Association of the United States also sounded the alarm on the topic last week, citing a National Guard Bureau whitepaper that highlighted the need for reimbursement. If an Aug. 1 funding deadline passes without Congress authorizing reimbursement, annual trainings, drills and individual schools will be cancelled, the NGAUS release stated. 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Although the House already passed a Capitol security bill that includes $521 million in reimbursement for the National Guard, it also included $200 million to establish a permanent Guard quick reaction force. Republican lawmakers and NGAUS officials have repeatedly spoken against such a mission. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville seemed to push back against the idea, too, when a lawmaker asked if a permanent military security task force was “appropriate.” “My best military advice,” he said, “is law enforcement should be conducted by law enforcement agencies, and the military should be the last resort when it comes to loss of law enforcement.” McConville and Wormuth had little to say, though, about the proposed end strength and top line cuts in President Joe Biden’s budget request for the Army. Instead, the two leaders emphasized to lawmakers that the service’s key modernization priorities remained funded despite “tough decisions.” The chief of staff expressed concern in April that the Army already had too few troops to meet its requirements. That was before the budget request. “Success can only be assured through continued transformation,” said Wormuth. “The Army has already made — and will continue to make — tough decisions to ensure the best use of resources to adapt to and stay ahead of the capabilities of our adversaries.”
FAA and Air Force sign agreement on commercial launches from Space Force bases
WASHINGTON — The Deptment of the Air Force signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration designed to eliminate red tape affecting commercial rocket launches at U.S. Space Force ranges, the agencies announced June 21.The two parties said the memorandum finished June 15 removes duplicative processes and approvals for commercial space activities originating from or…
WASHINGTON — The Deptment of the Air Force signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration designed to eliminate red tape affecting commercial rocket launches at U.S. Space Force ranges, the agencies announced June 21.The two parties said the memorandum finished June 15 removes duplicative processes and approvals for commercial space activities originating from or returning to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida and Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Essentially, the agreement states that the FAA will accept Department of the Air Force safety rules and processes as long as they satisfy FAA regulations. In return, the Air Force will accept FAA licensing decisions for commercial launches and not impose its own requirements for the flight and reentry parts of a launch, unless they impact national security space activities.“Assured access to space is vital to our national security,” said acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth in a joint press release with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “The launch licensing standards provided in the agreement will support a rapidly expanding commercial launch sector and strengthen our space industrial base, bolstering our economy and enhancing our security as a nation.”“Building a streamlined regulatory approach for commercial space activities at these federal launch sites is the right thing to do for public safety and U.S. competitiveness,” added Dickson. “This agreement will help the burgeoning U.S. commercial space industry grow even faster and continue to lead the world in safety and innovation.”The agreement will help cooperation between the two government bodies in responding to commercial requests for relief from safety regulations, conducting environmental reviews, and publishing launch activity materials. The six-page document replaces the last memorandum of agreement between the two organizations, signed in 2014.Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Vandenberg Space Force Base each have four FAA-licensed commercial launch providers operating on-site. Together, the two ranges supported 24 of the 39 commercial space launches licensed by the FAA in 2020.The announcement comes in the middle of the Space Force’s reorganization of its entire launch enterprise in anticipation of a growing launch cadence at the ranges involved. Earlier this year, the Space Force redesignated the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida as space launch deltas, which operators say flatten communications and eliminate an unnecessary echelon of command.On a broader scale, the Space Force is planning to unify its launch enterprise — launch operations, range operations and acquisitions — under a single office within its new field command: Space Systems Command. Under that construct, the SSC deputy commander will oversee all launch activities and will be known as the Assured Access to Space leader within the force. Space Systems Command is expected to replace the Space and Missile Systems Center as the Space Force’s primary acquisitions organization later this summer, after Congress approves a general to lead the new field command.Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.