Former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone said the president saved his life by commuting his 40-month prison sentence late Friday. Stone was one of the high-profile targets of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and was found guilty in November 2019 on five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a proceeding.

"The president has saved my life," Stone said, "And he's given me the opportunity to fight for vindication."

Stone, 67, has expressed concerns about going to prison, due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Stone believes his age and childhood history with asthma could make him more likely to have serious complications from the disease. 

Stone also said he wants to continue to fight his criminal charges in court. 

"I want to clear my name," he said. "I would like a new trial and vindication."

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Stone had been in contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to FBI documents. Stone had asked Wikileaks to release emails obtained by Russian hackers that would damage Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Stone’s efforts to cover up these communications with Assange led to criminal charges.

The Trump administration has defended Stone, calling him a victim “of the Russia hoax.” 

"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 about Stone’s commutation. "There was never any collusion between the Trump Campaign, or the Trump Administration, with Russia."

Top Democrats have criticized Trump’s decision to commute Stone’s sentence.

“Trump just commuted Roger Stone’s sentence. Stone lied and intimidated witnesses to hide Trump’s exploitation of the Russian hack of his opponent’s campaign. With Trump there are now two systems of justice in America: One for Trump's criminal friends and one for everyone else,” Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D.-Calif, said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., called Trump’s move “an act of staggering corruption.” 

One Republican also lambasted Trump for the decision. 

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, posted on Twitter.

The commutation could negatively impact morale at the Department of Justice. According to a recent report from Vanity Fair, Attorney General William Barr warned Trump that there could a “mutiny” at the Justice Department if the president commutes Stone’s sentence.

Stone, a “self-proclaimed dirty trickster,” has worked on numerous Republican political campaigns prior to Trump, beginning with Richard Nixon’s reelection bid in 1972. He also acted as a regional political director for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign.