(*Updated at 8:07 a.m. on 7/12/20 to include comment from President Donald Trump)
Pennsylvania’s two United States senators — in striking contrasts — have criticized President Donald Trump’s decision Friday to commute the prison of his friend and adviser Roger Stone.
In a statement released by his office on Saturday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called the decision “a mistake,” and said “any objections to Mr. Stone’s conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process.”
Stronger-than-normal words from Toomey, who has said he won't run for re-election but is widely believed to be planning a run for Pennsylvania governor in 2022. https://t.co/PtvAVWRcRC
— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) July 11, 2020
The full text of Toomey’s statement:
“The president clearly has the legal and constitutional authority to grant clemency for federal crimes. However, this authority should be used judiciously and very rarely by any president. While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake.
“He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee. Earlier this week Attorney General Bill Barr stated he thought Mr. Stone’s prosecution was ‘righteous’ and ‘appropriate’ and the sentence he received was ‘fair.’ Any objections to Mr. Stone’s conviction and trial should be resolved through the appeals process.”
*In a tweet late Saturday night, President Donald Trump blasted Toomey’s mild criticism, calling him a “RINO,” or “Republican in name only.”
Do RINO’S Pat Toomey & Mitt Romney have any problem with the fact that we caught Obama, Biden, & Company illegally spying on my campaign? Do they care if Comey, McCabe, Page & her lover, Peter S, the whole group, ran rampant, wild & unchecked – lying & leaking all the way? NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 12, 2020
In a Tweet, Toomey’s Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said “even Nixon would have been appalled,” and referenced a 2017 Tweet on the Trump/Russia probe.
I take it back. Even Nixon would have been appalled. https://t.co/ZEsnd29LcY
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) July 11, 2020
Toomey, who has has publicly broken with the White House in the past on such matters as trade and tariffs, quickly came in for scorn on social media for not offering a stronger condemnation. U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called the White House’s action “historic corruption.”
A “mistake” is when you forget to BCC all, not granting clemency to an international criminal.
— Jesse Damiani (@JesseDamiani) July 11, 2020
— Molly Jong-Fast? (@MollyJongFast) July 11, 2020
Let's not forget that in Pat Toomey, we're looking at a man so lacking in courage that he didn't admit he was voting for Trump until 7pm on election night.
— Adam Bonin (@adambonin) July 11, 2020
It wasn't a mistake, it was a conscious act of corruption, a reward tossed to an eyewitness and fellow participant in law-breaking in return for his silence and deception.
— Jay Bookman (@jaysbookman) July 11, 2020