On Saturday morning, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney became the first Congressional Republican so far to speak out against President Donald Trump’s Friday night decision to commute the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone. Stone had been sentenced to 40 months in prison for multiple felonies including lying to Congress and attempting to obstruct the Congressional investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Romney tweeted Saturday morning.
The President’s announcement that he would commute Stone’s sentence came just a few days before the Republican political operative was set to enter prison.
Last November, a jury found Stone guilty of all seven counts brought against him, including lying to Congress about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential election. He was also found guilty of witness tampering and obstructing a Congressional investigation.
In a statement defending the President’s decision, the White House said that “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.”
Stone and President Trump have known each other for over 30 years. The famed Republican operative helped advise President Trump’s first flirtation with running for president in the late 1990s and later advised his 2016 presidential bid. During the 2016 election cycle Stone attempted to contact WikiLeaks to obtain hacked emails he believed could hurt then-Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and later lied to Congress about his attempts, prosecutors alleged in his indictment.
This is not the first time Sen. Romney has broken with his party over President Trump’s actions. In January, Romney voted to impeach the President on the second article of impeachment brought against him: abuse of power. Romney was the only Senate Republican to do so.