- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2020

Rod Blagojevich, the convicted former governor of Illinois spared years in prison by President Trump, is pressing him to do the same for Roger Stone as the latter’s sentence looms.

“Roger Stone is a victim of a political persecution. As an act of justice and mercy, please, mister president, pardon Roger Stone,” Blagojevich said in a video statement Thursday.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, served nearly eight years of a 14-year prison sentence for various pubic corruption convictions before Mr. Trump granted him clemency in February and commuted the rest of his term.

Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime confidant and former campaign adviser, was ordered that same month to spend more than three years in prison for convictions related to charges he faced as a result of the government’s investigation into the 2016 election.

He has yet to begin serving time, however, and he has said he is praying for a presidential pardon while his lawyers challenge both his conviction and sentence in federal appeals court.

Mr. Trump indicated earlier this week a development may emerge involving Stone, meanwhile. Discussing his former adviser’s criminal trial Thursday morning, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Stone was “treated very unfairly,” adding: “Stay tuned.”

The president previously made similar remarks about Blagojevich prior to cutting short his prison sentence. “I thought he was treated unbelievably unfairly,” Mr. Trump said last year.

Indeed, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who met with Mr. Trump this weekend, stated afterward that he predicts the president will ultimately pardon Stone.

“I have every expectation that President Trump will pardon Roger Stone and that Roger Stone will not spend one day in jail,” Mr. Gaetz said Thursday.

Blagojevich’s plea for the president to pardon Stone was shared on YouTube by an account that has previously uploaded other videos supportive of the convicted former Trump adviser.

Neither the White House nor Stone immediately responded to messages seeking their reaction to Blagojevich’s request.

Stone, 67, was found guilty last year on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and perjury and accordingly received a sentence of 40 months imprisonment. He previously said that he assumed his sentence was to begin April 30, but that he notified by the Bureau of Prisons shortly beforehand that his surrender date had been postponed due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lawyers representing Stone on appeal are set to present their case by July 17, according to a briefing schedule set this week in the D.C. Circuit.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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