Roger Stone says President Donald Trump saved his life by commuting his prison sentence Friday night.
"The president has saved my life," Stone said, "And he's given me the opportunity to fight for vindication."
He previously had said that any period in a federal prison would amount to a death sentence, given the coronavirus pandemic and his health problems. "I'm 67 years old. I had very, very severe asthma as a child. If you look at the profile of those who are most at risk, I think I fit that," he said earlier.
While he expressed his gratitude for Trump's decision, Stone says it didn't come as a shock.
"Well I was, I was elated," he said Friday night outside his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home surrounded by onlookers. "Obviously I was somewhat relieved, but I was not surprised."
Stone described his legal ordeal as a "nightmare" and a "witch hunt."
"This is a horrific, horrific nightmare when you realize that ... this investigation never had any legitimate or lawful beginning," he said. "It was a witch hunt. There's no question about that."
Stone was convicted of obstructing a congressional investigation of Russia's 2016 presidential election meddling.
The 67-year-old former Trump campaign aide, who spoke to reporters while wearing a face mask that read "Free Roger Stone!," said he is "elated" by being spared 40 months in prison during the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump's commutation of Stone's sentence less than a week before he was due to report to federal prison drew ire and applause from lawmakers split down the political divide. Republicans celebrated the move, while Democrats said Trump behaved "like a Mafia boss" in commuting the sentence of someone accused of lying to Congress.
Stone said he will celebrate his freedom by writing a book about his experience and also helping to "exonerate" former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to FBI agents in January 2017 about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. The Justice Department dropped the charges in May.
Stone also threatened to file a formal complaint against prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, accusing him of defrauding the courts and breaking the law on "numerous occasions."
"If you saw his testimony before the [House Judiciary Committee] it was an incredible blend of obfuscation, hearsay and perjury," Stone said. "I got special treatment, he says. Let's go through the special treatment: 29 FBI agents show up at your house to rouse you out of bed for a white-collar process crime. That's special treatment?"
Zelinky testified last month that Stone was given "a break" because of politics and his relationship with Trump. That sentiment was echoed Friday by several Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. who accused the president of political favoritism.
Stone, however, continued to deny any wrongdoing and welcomed the commutation because it allows him to continue fighting the charges in court.
"I want to clear my name," he said. "I would like a new trial and vindication."