Trump balked at full pardon for Roger Stone over fears of Justice Department 'backlash': CNN legal analyst
Roger Stone (MSNBC)

President Donald Trump's former political strategist Roger Stone claims that he asked for a commutation of his prison sentence, rather than a full pardon, because a pardon would have implied an acknowledgement of guilt whereas a commutation would still allow him to seek for the original conviction to be thrown out.

But on CNN Saturday, criminal defense attorney Page Pate suggested it may have played out differently: Stone may have actually wanted a full pardon, but Trump was spooked out of offering one.

"Page, this situation, I guess, is not entirely surprising. It's been signaled for some time," said correspondent Abby Phillip. "But what is different about this, I think a lot of people were expecting a pardon here. Roger Stone said he wanted his sentence commuted because he didn't want to admit guilt. What is the significance of that?"

"Well, Abby, that's a good point. I don't think anyone has discussed it yet," said Pate. "I am certain that Mr. Stone would have expected a full pardon. I expect the pardon here, Trump said, look, I'm not going to wipe away the conviction entirely, I'm going to get too much backlash from the Department of Justice prosecutors, the people on the front lines, so I'm going to commute the sentence. Now, the idea that Stone can still appeal his conviction, that's true, but there's nothing about that conviction that I can see that will be successful on appeal and result in a new trial. So I think it was a compromise by the White House."

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