Mitt Romney on Trump's Commutation of Roger Stone: 'Unprecedented, Historic Corruption'

President Donald Trump's commutation of longtime friend Roger Stone drew criticism from Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who called the move "unprecedented, historic corruption."

Stone was set to serve 40 months in prison after he was convicted last year on federal charges of witness tampering and making false statements to Congress. Trump on Saturday defended his decision to commute Stone's sentence, which he claimed was the result of an "illegal Witch Hunt."

Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.

— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) July 11, 2020

"Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president," tweeted Romney, who was the lone GOP senator to vote to convict the president during the latter's impeachment trial.

"President Trump's decision to commute the sentence of top campaign advisor Roger Stone, who could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, is an act of staggering corruption," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted Saturday, linking to a statement in which she said Americans must elect a president in November "who will respect the Constitution."

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined several top Democrats in chastising their Republican counterparts for refusing to push back against what she described as corruption in the Trump administration.

"No surprise! Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence. B4 Trump leaves office, he'll ensure all his crooked friends are free to launder $, commit fraud, do dirty deals w/ Russians, tax evasion, commit treason, & sell out our democracy! Dems impeached, Rep Senators failed to remove!" she tweeted Friday.

Nebraska GOP Senator Ben Sasse took sides with Attorney General William Barr last February after 1,100 former Justice Department officials penned a letter calling for him to resign over his treatment of the Stone case. Federal prosecutors initially recommended up to nine years in prison for Stone, but Trump described this as unfair on Twitter, which soon prompted a much-reduced sentence.

Sasse labeled Stone a "troubled soul," but defended Barr and Trump.

"A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the president," according to that letter. "Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies."

Despite the president's high-profile clemency of Stone, former President Barack Obama actually has the most recorded commutations during his tenure with 1,715. That's the most of any president, which he commuted during his tenure in office.

Trump responded to criticism Saturday morning over his commutation of close personal friend Stone's sentence in a tweet: "Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place. It is the other side that are criminals, including Biden and Obama, who spied on my campaign - AND GOT CAUGHT!"

Newsweek reached out to both the White House and Romney's Utah Senate offices for additional remarks Saturday morning.

Correction 5:46 PM ET, to update the headline, including to correctly state that President Trump's action was a commutation of Roger Stone's sentence, not a pardon.

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U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and President Donald Trump listen during a listening session on youth vaping of electronic cigarette on November 22, 2019 in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC. President Trump met with business and concern group leaders to discuss on how to regulate vaping products and keep youth away from them. Alex Wong/Getty