The tragic death of Herman Cain reminded me how closely I myself came to what I believe would have been my demise. The controversy over President Trump’s courageous decision to commute my sentence so I could avoid immediate incarceration in a COVID-19 infested prison was a humanitarian act of both mercy and justice, but at the same time it blocked out news of my own efforts to avoid this peril and the extraordinary lengths to which the government went to give me “special treatment.”
When my lawyers were informed that the current Department of Justice directives by Attorney General Bill Barr to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on April 3, 2020 mandated that those incarcerated for nonviolent offenses as well as those about to be incarcerated for nonviolent offenses be moved from incarceration to home confinement to protect them from the COVID-19 virus, they were stunned. Democratic superlawyer Michael Avenatti and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had been moved to home confinement, so my lawyers attempted to get the same for me.
My attorneys filed an emergency motion with the trial court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. In our motion, we noted that the precedent in the previous 30 days in every circuit of the United States, including the DC Circuit, was for those convicted of nonviolent crimes to be moved to home confinement. In some cases those already incarcerated but uninfected had their sentences changed to time served. We also noted the current DOJ/BOP policy.
Additionally, we submitted substantial medical records and an extensive statement from my doctor, who believed that as a lifelong sufferer of asthma I would be particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. At that time, the prison at Jessup, Georgia to which I had been designated for surrender on July 14, 2020 had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 but did have 43 outstanding tests of inmates for which they had not yet received results. There had been no tests of prison employees at that time. It is noteworthy that the prison guards union disputed the finding that there were no cases of COVID-19. They reported that none of the CDC protocols were in place, including masks, hand washing and any attempt at social distancing.
Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department did not oppose our emergency motion, but when we filed it the judge issued an immediate order to the government to explain themselves. The government pointed out in their response that the delay in my surrender or the transfer to home incarceration was consistent with their current Department of Justice directed policies. Nonetheless, Judge Jackson denied our motion.
With only days left before my incarceration, we learned that the prison in Jesup had released a serial rapist, a child pornographer, a pedophile and an armed robber to prevent them from contracting COVID-19. In other words, the government was actually trying to put me in prison while they were releasing others!
I had no choice but to file an emergency appeal with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. With one exception, the facts remained the same. The condition of my health was consistent but by the time we filed the emergency motion with the appeals court, there were now 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Jessup correctional facility as well as 53 confirmed cases among prison employees.
Judge Jackson’s order of immediate incarceration violated the legal precedent of similarly situated individuals in every state, including DC, and ignored the bureau of prisons policy of moving nonviolent convicts to home confinement or delaying their incarceration. Also, Attorney General Barr’s Justice Department changed their position and opposed our emergency motion despite the fact that nothing had materially changed other than the confirmed cases at Jesup.
Then I drew a three judge panel that included one judge appointed by President Barack Obama, one judge appointed by President Bill Clinton and one judge appointed by President George W. Bush and no judges appointed by either President Ronald Reagan or President Donald Trump. Incredibly, contrary to all legal precedent, contrary to current DOJ/BOP directives and despite the now more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in Jessup, Georgia, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals voted 3 to 0 for my immediate incarceration. This must have been more of the “special treatment” that the four politicized prosecutors who resigned from my case to protest the Justice Department’s unwillingness to substantially increase my prison time had sought.
At 7 p.m., roughly twenty minutes after I got the news regarding our loss in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, my cell phone rang with the crisp and efficient voice of the White House operator. “The President of the United States is trying to reach Roger Stone,” he said. “This is Roger Stone,” I responded. “Are you available to take the president’s call?” he asked. “Yes indeed,” I said after which he put me on hold and there was a short wait.
The president came on the line to tell me that he had decided to commute my sentence in an act of clemency based on the constitutional powers he had been granted. The president said he had issued a commutation rather than a pardon to give me the option of pursuing my appeal to clear my name. He said he had decided to do this because he was convinced that I did not get a fair trial and his conviction that my prosecution was unjust because it grew out of the now discredited Mueller investigation.
“I also understand the danger of a guy your age going to prison in the middle of this pandemic” the president said. “A number of people told me not to take this action, but a number of others insisted it was the right thing to do. You have some very good friends” he continued. “Say hello to your beautiful wife” he said after which I extended my greetings to the First Lady. With that, the president finished the conversation by saying “you are a free man.”
For two years I endured a tsunami of leaks from the Special Counsel’s office that I would be charged with treason, espionage, conspiracy against the United States, violation of the Foreign Campaign Contributions ban because of the laundering of millions of rubles, cyber-crimes including unauthorized access to a protected computer and receipt and dissemination of stolen data as well as aiding and abetting a conspiracy and being an accessory to a felony after the fact.
Despite performing a legal proctological examination of my entire life as well as browbeating nineteen of my current or former associates before the grand jury, Mueller’s prosecutors could find no evidence of any of these crimes. Nor could they find any evidence of Russian collusion other than the contact from a Russian who tried to sell me opposition research on Hilary Clinton, an offer which I quickly declined. Nor could they find any evidence whatsoever that I possessed or knew the source or subject of any of the Wikileaks disclosures prior to their formal release.
While many friends and supporters who have gone through this horrific ordeal with me have urged me to lay low and reacquaint myself with my family while I look for a way to rebuild my family finances, I wrote this piece to demonstrate that the courageous act of commuting my prison sentence saved me from near certain death in a COVID-19 infested prison and preserved my right to live long enough to appeal an unjust verdict.
God Bless the President of the United States.