Pelosi said that Congress will take action to “prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing” and that legislation is needed to “ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution.”
The President has broad constitutional power to pardon and grant clemency, and Friday night the White House announced that Trump commuted Stone’s sentence days before he was set to report to a federal prison in Georgia.
Before the White House’s announcement late Friday, Pelosi told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that granting clemency for Stone is “appalling” and “ridiculous.”
Stone was convicted in November of seven charges, which included lying to Congress and witness tampering, as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Among the things he misled Congress about were his communications with Trump campaign officials, which prosecutors said Stone hid out of his desire to protect the President.
Trump’s move spares Stone from having to serve jail time after a judge sentenced him in February to 40 months in prison — but the guilty verdicts remain on the books.
The President defended his decision in his first public comments on the matter Saturday.
“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!” the President wrote on Twitter.
The President appeared to be referring to court-authorized wiretaps of former Trump campaign official Carter Page — after he had left the campaign — although the Justice Department later said it had “insufficient” reason to continue the wiretaps.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told NBC News on Saturday that by granting clemency to Stone, Trump is sending the message “if you lie for the President, if you cover up for the President, if you withhold incriminating evidence for the President, you get a pass from Donald Trump.”
Schiff, a Democrat, argued that such actions establish two standards of justice in the United States — one for Trump’s “criminal cronies” and another for everyone else.
Schiff’s bill, the “Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act,” would require any evidence be provided to Congress if a president grants clemency to an individual tied to an investigation in which the president or a family member is a witness, subject, or target.
The bill was introduced amid Schiff’s concerns that Trump would “undermine” former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation by using his pardon powers and before Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was scheduled to be sentenced.
Mueller went on to note in the piece, “Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.”
“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false,” Mueller wrote.
Romney condemns ‘unprecedented, historic corruption’
As Democratic leadership on Saturday condemned the President’s act of clemency for his friend, most Republican lawmakers have so far remained quiet on the matter.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office had no comment on Stone’s commutation. And a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, however, swiftly condemned the President’s move as “unprecedented, historic corruption.”
Stone also responded to Romney on Saturday. In a video posted to Twitter, Stone insulted Romney and said the senator did not have the “facts” about his case “correct.”
Once the party’s standard bearer and presidential nominee, Romney is often one of the GOP’s only members voicing opposition to some of Trump’s actions.
Later on Saturday, another Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, called Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence a “mistake” and said that the president’s power to grant clemency for federal crimes “should be used judiciously and very rarely.”
“While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake,” Toomey said in a statement. “He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee.”
This story has been updated to include reaction from former special counsel Robert Mueller, comments from Sen. Mitt Romney, the White House’s reaction to them, a statement from Sen. Pat Toomey and comments from Roger Stone responding to Romney.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Kevin Bohn, Marshall Cohen, Ali Main and Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.