Friends of Roger Stone start up public effort to push for pardon as Trump remains non-committal

In a meeting with the Ecuadorean president in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump thanked the Justice Department for intervening in the case involving his onetime campaign associate Roger Stone. Trump claimed he hadn’t spoken to the department about the case.

A former adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and a longtime friend of Roger Stone confirmed Wednesday that he is leading an effort to have the former Trump associate pardoned.

The “Pardon Roger Stone” group was organized to raise money for Stone and his family, collect signatures in favor of a pardon and create an avenue for the White House to discuss clemency with Stone’s associates.

“We’re raising money, raising awareness and assuring the White House that we stand by for contact when, and if, they’re ready,” said Michael Caputo, the leader of the push.

Caputo has not yet been in contact with the White House or the Justice Department about a Stone pardon. But the committee is the latest effort in a public and private lobbying campaign to convince Trump to pardon Stone.

Stone, Trump’s longtime political adviser, was convicted on seven charges last year including lying to Congress and witness tampering. He is set to be sentenced on February 20 in Washington amid controversy over political intervention in his case.

The four prosecutors overseeing Stone’s case withdrew on Tuesday in a mass revolt after top Justice Department officials undermined them by disavowing prosecutors’ recommendation that Stone face seven to nine years in prison.

Caputo said the new group has arranged a committee to meet with White House officials to discuss a potential pardon — if the White House is interested.

“The path is fraught with peril: peril for Roger, peril for the President and peril for us,” Caputo said. “It’s a tightrope walk for all of us.”

Trump has seemed open to a pardon, railing on Twitter that Stone has been treated unfairly and cheering Attorney General Bill Barr for “taking charge” of the Stone case.

When asked on Wednesday by reporters if he was considering a pardon for Stone, Trump wouldn’t commit to one but slammed the recommended sentence again.

“I don’t want to say that yet, but I’ll tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people,” Trump said of a potential pardon.

He added, “We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens. And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail — it’s a disgrace.”

The committee is raising money in coordination with a charity called Jesus My Amigo Ministries, based in Gainesville, Georgia. The charity’s website primary advertises its efforts to build wells and provide clean water to Peru, and it’s unclear why the group teamed up with Stone’s allies. The charity’s executive director did not immediately return a call for comment.

Caputo said the other members of the pardon committee are “Roger’s old friends,” but he declined to name any of them beyond himself.

Caputo added that the Stone family supports his efforts. A lawyer for Stone declined to comment.

The money raised would be devoted to legal fees and the Stone family’s bills, Caputo said.

Stone has already been raising money for a legal defense fund to pay his attorney fees. But he would likely hire new lawyers if he appeals his sentence. If Stone is sentenced to jail time, there are concerns about how he and his wife would get by financially, Caputo said.

“They’re completely destitute; they have no money,” Caputo said of the Stone family.

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