President Donald Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone on Friday, sparing him from prison after he was convicted of lying under oath to lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Trump's decision to commute Stone's sentence days before he was due to report to prison marked the Republican president's most assertive intervention to protect an associate in a criminal case and his latest use of executive clemency to benefit an ally. Democrats condemned Trump's action as an assault on the rule of law.
"Roger Stone has already suffered greatly," the White House said in a statement. "He was treated very unfairly, as were many others in this case. Roger Stone is now a free man!"
Stone, 67, was scheduled to report by Tuesday to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, to begin serving a sentence of three years and four months.
Trump, seeking re-election on Nov 3, opted to give Stone a commutation, which does not erase a criminal conviction, rather than a full pardon.
Stone was among several Trump associates charged with crimes in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that documented Russian interference to boost Trump's 2016 candidacy.