Yes, Stone is still a felon

I am going to presume that Robert Mueller III wishes he wouldn’t be dragged back into the news cycle, but he has been brought back into public discussion.

Donald Trump commuted the 40-month prison sentence that awaited Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime pal and dirty trickster.

Trump said, not surprisingly, that Stone had been treated “unfairly.” Mueller, in an essay published by the Washington Post, disputes that contention vigorously.

Here’s the deal, though. Suppose the president had pardoned Stone. It would have expunged the record of a felony. A pardon doesn’t expunge people’s memories, their knowledge of what brought about the pardon. Mueller writes in the Post: A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

Had the president pardoned Stone, all of that would have remained part of the unofficial record. So, what Trump did merely was to keep his pal out of the slammer, which is the reward Stone got for being so loyal to Trump.

I really am not worried that Trump might actually pardon Stone before he leaves office. So what if he does? Trump already has saved Stone from the worst of his conviction, a prison sentence. A full pardon doesn’t wipe clean the memories of those of us who believed in the conviction that came down in the first place.

Indeed, the first sentence of Roger Stone’s obituary is going to include a prominent mention of the crimes for which a jury convicted him … no matter what!