By Helene Fung
US President Donald Trump commuted the 40 months prison sentence of his ally and advisor Roger Stone on Friday (local time), days before Mr Stone was due to report to a federal prison to start serving his sentence for lying under oath to the US Congress investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
The communication does not erase Mr Stone’s criminal conviction, but he is spared from serving jail time.
Following the news, Mr Stone spoke to reporters outside his home, while wearing a mask printed with the message “Free Roger Stone”.
“This investigation never had any legitimate or lawful beginning. It was a witch hunt,” said Mr Stone.
Mr Trump’s critics have accused him of undermining the US justice system to help friends and allies, and punish critics and perceived enemies.
This is not the first time that Mr Trump had intervened to help Mr Stone. Mr Trump’s commentary that the recommended prison term of seven to nine years was excessive caused all prosecutors on Mr Stone’s case to quit, and the new prosecutor recommended a term of three to four years instead.