Trump knows which way the winds are blowing, and in his case they are blowing a chilling breeze across the 2020 election landscape and his re-election chances.
Trump’s commutation of his longtime friend and convicted felon Roger Stone came as no surprise to anyone given that what we have seen over the past four years, but the political landscape in post-Covid America has brought all of it into sharp focus in the Trump campaign’s desperate bid to stop the bleeding.
Stone is no fool and knows which side his bread is buttered, and Trump is a fool’s fool. Having hitched himself to Stone for decades, Stone pushed Trump over the finish line in 2016 with help from Putin’s Russia. It all seemed too good to be true, even if the victory itself was tainted.
Fast forward three years, and Trump is now staring down the barrel of a loaded legal cannon from New York’s district attorney ready to go off when he leaves office, and he would prefer that to be four more years from now.
Stone was not given a pardon, but a commutation of his sentence with even his supervised release suspended. King Trump is a generous king, and helps his friends, but sometimes even friends can become your worst enemy, especially when your friend is wrapped up in an investigation into a foreign power sticking its hands into your country’s election, and your friend helped get you elected with help from that power.
Robert Mueller’s team spent a lot of time with Stone going over his role in 2016’s Russian election interference, and Stone said only as much as was needed to protect Trump and also to protect himself to limit the damage. Loyalty doesn’t come cheap in the Trump inner circle of friends though, and Trump reluctantly gave Stone his precious get out of jail free card in the face of political suicide in November. It’s a risk he had to take to pay back Stone, and he’s hoping that Roger will take it quietly and ride off into history. With Covid-19 laying waste across the country, it’s a risk he must take, hoping Americans are more worried about staying alive than worrying about him helping out his criminal friends.
Trump is doing his best to paint the Russia investigation in a negative light and portray himself and those around him involved in it as the victims. Stone’s commutation is proof. Even Senator Lindsey Graham is getting in on the action, inviting Mueller back to testify after his damaging op-ed in last weekend’s Washington Post, hoping to smear him and the investigation in front of the American people as a last ditch effort to prevent a sinking ship.
It all means that Trump has broken his oath of office to uphold the laws of the United States, but in the twilight of America, laws are things that just get in the way.