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Trump blasts 'RINO' Toomey for criticizing Stone commutation

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Sen. Mike Regan (R-PA) left, looks on as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) discusses the Blocking Deadly Fentanyl Imports Act at the York County Administrative Building in York City, Thursday, March 21, 2019. The bipartisan legislation would hold fentanyl-producing nations accountable for their compliance with United States fentanyl-related drug enforcement. Dawn J. Sagert photo

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was one of two Senate Republicans to draw the ire of President Donald Trump on Saturday after criticizing Trump's decision to commute the sentence of former adviser Roger Stone.

The attacks on Toomey, of Pennsylvania, and Sen. Mitt Romney, of Utah, came as Trump's poll numbers were slipping and America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, bought $23 million in ads to attack Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Axios reported.

"Do RINO'S Pat Toomey & Mitt Romney have any problem with the fact that we caught (President Barack) Obama, Biden, & Company illegally spying on my campaign?' Trump tweeted."...NO!"

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Trump on Friday commuted the sentence of his former campaign adviser, who late last year was found guilty of seven felonies related to the probe into communications between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Among the charges were witness tampering and lying to Congress.

Stone was about to begin a 40-month federal prison sentence.

Friday's commutation immediately set off alarms nationwide, as many accused Trump of abusing his presidential powers. Toomey and Romney have thus far been the only two Senate Republicans to publicly denounce the president's decision.

"While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone’s sentence is a mistake,” Toomey said in a statement Saturday, adding that Stone was "duly convicted."

On Twitter, Romney called the commutation "unprecedented, historic corruption."

Seeking more details about Stone's clemency, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Monday also demanded that she be provided with a copy of the executive order by the following day, The Associated Press reported.

The president's claims that Obama's administration spied on his campaign have not been supported by any evidence.

A December 2019 Justice Department Inspector General report did find, however, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation made 17 errors in its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application for former Trump aide Carter Paige.

Trump's unsupported claims, sometimes referred to as "SpyGate," have often surfaced in comments as the president faces slipping poll numbers and criticism over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden has polled on average at 6.5 points ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania, a key state for Trump's reelection bid, according to RealClearPolitics. And Sabato's Crystal Ball recently changed the state's classification from tossup to leaning Democratic.

Pro-Trump groups have already boosted ad buys as the pandemic progresses and November's election inches closer. That trend is expected to continue later this month.

On Monday, Axios reported that America First Action, pro-Trump super PAC, has spent $23 million on ads that are expected to air beginning July 24 and lasting through Labor Day.

About $7.5 million was spent on Pennsylvania, as the remaining money was directed toward ads in Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.