WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has commuted the prison sentence of Roger Stone, a longtime confidant and Republican operative who was found guilty last year of seven felony counts, including witness tampering and lying to Congress during the Russia investigation.
Stone was to report to prison on Tuesday to start serving 40 months behind bars.
"Roger Stone is 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," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. "There was never any collusion between the Trump campaign, or the Trump administration, with Russia."
She said Stone, 67, would be at "serious medical risk in prison."
Trump had long argued that Stone was improperly targeted by federal prosecutors, and he repeatedly hinted that he would grant clemency to Stone.
"I'll be looking at it," Trump told reporters earlier Friday. "I think Roger Stone was very unfairly treated, as were many people."
Unlike a pardon, a sentence commutation does not erase the conviction. It leaves the felonies on Stone's record but allows him to avoid serving time in prison. Stone has remained unrepentant.
The decision marks the latest effort by Trump and his administration to undo the work of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who successfully prosecuted several members of the president's inner circle as part of his probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
Stone's case became a flashpoint for concerns about political meddling in sensitive criminal cases after Attorney General William Barr overruled his own prosecutors in February and requested a lower sentence for Stone. Three career prosecutors withdrew from the case and a fourth quit.
However, Barr signaled in a July 8 interview with ABC News that he disagreed with Trump and believed Stone should still spend time behind bars.