Washington — Republican operative Roger Stone, who was relieved of a 40-month prison sentence by longtime ally President Trump this month, is coming under fire for using a racial slur during a radio interview Saturday, though he denies doing so.
Stone appeared on the Mr. Mo’Kelly Show, broadcast on KFI-AM in Los Angeles, on Saturday evening, during which he and radio host Morris O’Kelly discussed Mr. Trump’s decision to commute his prison sentence days before he was set to report to federal prison in Georgia.
During the phone interview, O’Kelly, who is Black, told Stone, “There are thousands of people treated unfairly daily. How your number just happened to come up in the lottery, I’m guessing it was more than just luck, Roger, right?” A man who sounds like Stone is then heard saying, “I don’t really feel like arguing with this Negro,” though the audio is muffled.
After attempting to reconnect with Stone and nearly a minute of silence from the GOP operative, he then reappears, saying, “You there? Hello?”
O’Kelly confronted Stone about the remark, though he denied making such a comment.
“I did not,” Stone responded. “You’re out of your mind.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Stone again denied using the slur, saying “Mr. O’Kelly needs a good peroxide cleaning of the wax in his ears because at no time did I call him a negro.”
“That said, Mr. O’Kelly needs to spend a little more time studying black history and institutions,” he continued. “The word negro is far from a slur.”
Stone was convicted in November of seven charges of obstruction, making false statements and witness tampering in a case that stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison in February, but day before he was set to surrender, Mr. Trump wiped clean the entirety of his sentence and his two years of supervised release, but declined to issue a full pardon.
Roger Stone, the political operative whose 40-month prison sentence was commuted by Donald Trump, his longtime friend, used a racial slur on air while verbally sparring with a Los Angeles-based black… Read More
Stone was convicted of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress.
The president’s move – sparing Stone from jail but not granting him a pardon – came just after a court denied Stone’s request to delay the start date of his prison term.
Leading Democrats and a few Republicans have condemned Mr Trump’s decision, saying it undermined the justice system.
The White House said that Department of Justice prosecutors under Mr Mueller only charged Stone out of frustration after failing to prove the “fantasy” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Kremlin.
What do Mueller and others say?
Mr Mueller writes that he felt compelled to respond to claims that his investigation had been illegitimate, his motives improper, and Stone a victim.
“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so,” he wrote.
He said that finding evidence of Russian interference was a complex task that took “two years and substantial effort” and resulted in a number of charges and prosecutions. Stone’s obstruction may have impeded efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable, he added.
“We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law,” he concluded. “The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”
Mr Mueller rarely makes public statements about the investigation, and the article is the first since he gave testimony in Congress in July 2019.
His reaction follows strong condemnation by senior Democrats, with presidential contender Joe Biden’s spokesman accusing Mr Trump of abuse of power and “laying waste” to US values.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said it showed Mr Trump was the most corrupt president in history.
Some Republican critics of Mr Trump have also spoken out, with Senator Mitt Romney describing the president’s decision as “unprecedented, historic corruption”.
What does the president say?
In a tweet on Saturday, Mr Trump said: “Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place.”
Earlier, the White House said in a statement that Stone was “a victim of the Russia Hoax that the Left and its allies in the media perpetuated for years in an attempt to undermine the Trump Presidency”.
It also suggested that the FBI had tipped off CNN about their pre-dawn raid on Stone’s house, noting that a camera crew for the cable network was on the scene to record the arrest.
Mr Trump had been hinting about a reprieve for Stone for months, including on Thursday night in an interview with a Fox News host.
Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham was among those welcoming the decision. He said Stone was convicted of a “nonviolent, first-time offense” and the president was “justified” in commuting the sentence.
Stone himself told reporters that under the terms of the commutation he could now appeal against his sentence, and was confident that he could expose “an enormous amount of corruption” at his trial.
What was Stone convicted of?
The president’s commutation does not void a criminal conviction as a pardon does.
Stone was found guilty of lying to the House Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact Wikileaks, the website that released damaging emails about Mr Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton.
US intelligence officials have concluded the messages were stolen by Russian hackers.
Stone had acknowledged during the 2016 campaign that he was in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
He also intimated that he knew the website would disclose more than 19,000 emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee servers.
Stone’s sentence fell short of an initial seven-to-nine-year recommendation from prosecutors.
In a remarkable move, US Attorney General William Barr had overruled that sentencing guideline following a Trump tweet, and instead recommended a more lenient punishment.
That intervention led to the entire Stone prosecution team resigning from the case.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 clubs on Wednesday outlining initial plans for the reopening of team facilities.
UCHealth Training Center and the remaining 31 training facilities have been closed since late March as part of the league’s response to COVID-19.
Goodell’s memo details protocols that will allow an initial reopening phase that includes a portion of the team’s employees returning to work. No more than 50 percent of the team’s employees (or up to 75 people) will be allowed in the building in a day.
These guidelines could be stricter depending on local and state guidelines.
No players would return to the facilities during this initial phase, unless they were visiting to continue rehab and treatment that was already taking place when facilities initially closed.
Goodell’s memo suggests teams should prepare to install these protocols by May 15.
The league is also working on crafting guidelines for a second phase of reopening that includes a larger number of staff members and also includes players. The memo says that the NFL is working with the NFLPA to develop proper protocols as it relates to access to the facilities.
All protocols were developed in a process led by Dr. Allen Sills and reviewed by Duke University’s infectious disease physicians, the NFLPA’s medical director and the CDC. Sills will contact each team’s physician and newly established Infection Control Officer before the facilities reopen.
The memo also states that the league is working to plan for the 2020 season and that the NFL will be prepared for contingencies.
The 2020 NFL schedule is expected to be released on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MT.