“The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas, and convictions — should speak for itself. But 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 wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Saturday.
He continued, “The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”
Mueller proceeded to outline why his team investigated and prosecuted Stone, “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.”
“We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”
Then he turned to the federal crimes that Stone was convicted of:
“Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He, in fact, updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.”
He added, “The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.”
Finally, Mueller defended the prosecutors in Stone’s case, “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”
On Friday, Trump announced that he would commute Stone’s sentence — just days before he was supposed to begin his prison sentence.
“He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!” the White House said in a statement.
As Mueller noted, the commutation of Stone’s sentence does not erase his criminal conviction.
In February, Stone was sentenced to three years and four months after he was convicted on charges of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice.
After Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Stone’s request to delay his prison sentence, Attorney General William Barr said, “I think the prosecution was righteous and I think the sentence the judge ultimately gave was fair,