With his prison surrender date fast approaching, Roger Stone, President Donald Trump’s former advisor, said Thursday he’s concerned that going behind bars will be a “death penalty” for him — but he’s “optimistic” his old friend will come to the rescue.
“You know what I call this? I call this the death penalty, that’s what I call it. I have grave concerns that if I went there at my age and condition, I may not live to see my appeal a year from now,” Stone, 68, said in an interview on SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton & Sam Roberts Show.”
Stone is scheduled to begin serving his 40-month sentence for lying to Congress, obstruction and witness tampering on Tuesday.
He’s asked an appeals court to push off his surrender date until Sept. 3, citing coronavirus concerns. “He is at considerable risk from serious health consequences, including death, if his surrender date is not extended,” Stone’s lawyers contended in a filing earlier this week.
On Thursday, lawyers from the Department of Justice, which had originally not opposed Stone’s request for a delay until September, said the agency agreed with the judge who ordered Stone to surrender next week — which is two weeks later than he was originally scheduled to go to prison.
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Stone said he was “optimistic” that Trump, who he’d long encouraged to run for president, will still come to his rescue.
“I do try to read what he thinks through his tweets … His tweets have been very critical of my prosecution, critical of the conduct of my trial, quite supportive,” Stone told SiriusXM.
He said Trump could give him a pardon, “or more likely he could just commute my sentence, which means I would still have to battle it out on appeal, which frankly I want to do, because I want an opportunity to clear my name.”
Trump was noncommittal on whether he would pardon or commute the sentence for Stone or others in a phone interview with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity on Thursday night.
“I am always thinking. I am always thinking,” Trump said when asked if he was considering pardons or commutations. “You’ll be watching, like everybody else in this case.”
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters earlier he doesn’t know if Trump will intervene but suggested a decision is coming soon.
“Certainly as Roger Stone looks at having to report to confinement, that decision, whether it’s made or not, becomes more important to make in the coming days if we’re going to keep Roger Stone, who is advancing in age and health, from reporting,” Meadows said.
In his radio interview, Stone also complained about Facebook shutting down his accounts, including his Instagram, for allegedly using fake accounts to push hyper-partisan, conservative political news stories to domestic audiences.
“The charges that I owned hundreds of fake Facebook pages is categorically false. It’s just not true,” Stone said, adding that, “Most of my posts on Instagram were humorous, I guess these guys don’t like comedy.”
Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.
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Daniel Barnes reports for NBC News, based in Washington.
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