In response to the sentencing of his longtime friend Roger Stone on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that he did not plan to use the "great powers" of clemency in the matter, but would rather like to see how the process plays out.
While speaking at an event in Las Vegas, the president said that he was following Stone's case "very closely and I want to see it play out to its fullest because Roger has a very good chance for exoneration, in my opinion."
Stone, a longtime GOP operative and friend of Trump's, was sentenced to 40 months in prison earlier Thursday on charges that included lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation in relation to the Mueller investigation. However, Stone will not have to report to prison until the court rules on his defense team's motion for a new trial, which is based on a juror bias claim.
Last week, it was reported that jury foreman Tomeka Hart — a former Democratic congressional candidate — had a history of left-wing activism as well as anti-Trump social media posts.
During his remarks, Trump criticized Hart as "totally tainted" and an "anti-Trump activist." He later asked, "How can you have a jury pool tainted so badly? It's not fair."
But ultimately, the decision on the whether or not Hart was a biased juror is going to be up to the judge in the case, the president made clear later in his remarks, which were also peppered throughout with digs at former FBI officials, FISA warrant abuse, and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's email scandal.
"So if this woman was tainted, I hope the judge will find that she was tainted and if she isn't tainted that will be fine too," Trump said, returning to the subject of the Stone case. "But I'm not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a president of the United States; I want the process to play out."
Trump added that allowing the process to continue "was the best thing to do because I'd like to see Roger exonerated and I'd love to see it happen. Because I personally think he was treated very unfairly."
But the door for clemency in the matter isn't completely closed, it seems. Trump added in conclusion that "at some point I will make a determination, but Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly."