“As with the Justice Department’s unprecedented attempt to dismiss charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty in open court to making false statements to the FBI, Stone’s pardon is a case of the Trump administration citing legitimate problems with the criminal justice system for nakedly cynical and self-serving ends. The Justice Department did not care about excessive sentencing or unfair prosecutions before. It does not care about them now, and it will not care about them when they’re used again to railroad defendants who aren’t Trump’s allies.
This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has stepped in to protect Stone. A federal grand jury indicted Stone last January on seven counts of obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering stemming from Special Prosecutor Roger Mueller’s probe of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted on all counts in November.
Federal prosecutors originally recommended a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for Stone, prompting Trump to fume on Twitter that this was “horrible and very unfair.” A day later, the Justice Department overrode the line prosecutors’ recommendations—an almost unheard of event—saying Stone deserved a far lighter sentence.”