WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump said he wouldn't immediately pardon his former associate Roger Stone, but complained that he was treated unfairly and is likely to be exonerated, after Stone was sentenced on Thursday to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness.
"I'm not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon the President of the United States," Mr Trump said at a Las Vegas event hosted by Hope for Prisoners, a charity that helps ex-prisoners transition back into society. "I want the process to be played out. I personally think he was treated very unfairly."
Mr Trump complained at length about Stone's case, alleging that the foreman of his jury was "tainted" because she is an "anti-Trump activist".
He indicated he came to that conclusion based on social media posts that the woman had deleted but did not provide examples.
"Roger Stone has a very good chance of exoneration, in my opinion," Mr Trump said.
The President also said the justice system is unfair because his political opponents, including former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials James Comey and Andrew McCabe, as well as "people that are even in Roger Stone's basic business of politics" had not been charged with crimes.
Stone's sentence ended a tumultuous stretch for the Justice Department, after Mr Trump criticised prosecutors' initial recommendation that Stone serve seven to nine years in prison.
The Justice Department reduced the recommendation after Mr Trump tweeted his complaint about it, prompting four prosecutors to resign from the case. One quit the government altogether.
Mr Trump has repeatedly suggested in public remarks that he might pardon Stone.
At the Las Vegas event on Thursday, Mr Trump strongly hinted that he would pardon the leader of Hope for Prisoners, Jon Ponder, who is himself a felon.
"We are giving him absolute consideration," Mr Trump said. "I have a feeling he's going to get that full pardon."