'Big mistake': Barr, White House officials tried to keep Trump from getting involved in Stone's sentencing

 Attorney General William Barr and chief of staff Mark Meadows, among other White House officials, were opposed to commuting Roger Stone's prison sentence and were outraged by President Donald Trump's decision to do so Friday night, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The opposition was fueled by concerns that Trump could face significant political blowback and could be seen as abusing his presidential power — a risk the president cannot afford to take as he continues to trail former Vice President Joe Biden in the national polls and in key battle ground states, raising red flags for his re-election chances.

Trump was warned of these vulnerabilities, according to one of the people familiar with the discussions, who said the president was told “it was a big mistake.”

Barr discussed Stone's sentence with Trump and recommended clemency not be offered, according to multiple sources, and other White House officials, including Meadows, also advised the president against the commutation.

When asked about why the president would flout the advice of top advisers, one of the sources said the president believed Stone was treated unfairly by prosecutors and that the Russia investigation was an illegitimate “witch hunt.”

Trump's decision to ignore the advice of those arounds him was also rooted in the president's belief that his base would not disapprove of his decision to commute Stone.

The announcement of Stone's clemency sparked concern among some who viewed it as emblematic of the lack of control that those close to the president have on Trump's decision making process, including his legal team.

The White House announced Friday evening that Trump commuted the prison sentence of Stone, a former campaign aide, sparing his longtime adviser from having to report to prison next week.

Stone was sentenced in February to three years, four months in federal prison for obstructing a congressional investigation of Russia's 2016 presidential election meddling. After the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation, he was given an extension on reporting to prison. He had been on home confinement in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Stone, 67, had been calling for a pardon or clemency on social media for weeks and Trump did little to dissuade his lobbying efforts, repeatedly telling reporters that it was something he was considering. Trump hinted that clemency or a pardon was in the works when he retweeted a petition to pardon Stone at the end of June.



Reid says she wants different perspectives on MSNBC show

Joy Ann Reid portrait

MSNBC said Thursday it would give Joy Reid the 7 p.m. slot that had been anchored for years by departed journalist Chris Matthews, handing the important task of assembling early-evening weekday audiences for its primetime schedule to a Black woman – still a rarity in the cable-news business in 2020.

Her program will be called “The ReidOut,” and will be based in Washington, D.C., starting on July 20. Reid’s new role has been widely expected since The Wall Street Journal reported last month she was in consideration.

MSNBC doesn’t appear to be changing the nature of the hour, which has for years been filled by Matthews’ “Hardball,” an hour devoted to the politics of the day. Matthews, a former political speechwriter and one-time aide to former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill, was immersed in Beltway rhythms. He retired from his program abruptly in March, coming under scrutiny for remarks made on air about U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and after a female journalist alleged he spoke to her in an inappropriate way.

But Reid has always offered an unapologetically partisan program. Her Sunday show, “A.M. Joy,” part of MSNBC since 2016, analyzes the issues of the day with the same progressive lens as the network’s ‘s primetime hosts Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O’Donnell.  Reid has in recent years been one of the main fill-ins for those anchors. She has held that even right-leaning viewers can tune in to see her work from a common set of facts to put the news cycle in context. “We do have some conservatives who watch the show,” she told Variety in 2017. “Some hate-watch. Some watch it on purpose. We have a lot of Republicans who are on the show, part of them are Never Trumpers and neocon Never Trumpers. In an ideal world, people would take the opposite position and work from a common fact base and draw their own conclusions.”

Some of the most important broadcast-network news shows are anchored or co-anchored by Black journalists, including the nation’s three biggest morning-news programs as well as “NBC Nightly News.” But cable-news’ track record on diversity is less distinctive. Only CNN features a person of color in weekday primetime. Fox News Channel, meanwhile, has given increasing attention to Harris Faulkner in daytime since she took on duties on “Outnumbered” in 2014, adding a solo hour to her daily routine.

Chris Matthews left “Hardball” carrying baggage. Reid arrives in the timeslot with some in tow. In 2018, some of her posts on an old blog she managed earlier in her career surfaced anew. Some of them contained homophobic remarks, and another one contained a photoshopped image of former Senator John McCain depicted as the instigator of a mass-shooting incident. Reid has apologized several times for the controversial comments, but also maintained she did not recall writing them and even suggested that the old web pages had been manipulated by hackers  – a claim that remains unproven.

“What I genuinely believe is that I truly care about the L.G.B.T. people in my own life,” Reid told The New York Times in a report Thursday. “I care about being a good ally, a good person, and making sure that my voice is authentic, that I can make a difference.”

Reid first arrived at MSNBC as an afternoon anchor, part of a move to extend the progressive leanings of primetime to other parts of the schedule. But MSNBC pulled back on that maneuver after Andy Lack arrived in 2015, and shows led by Reid and Ronan Farrow were scuttled in favor of a hard-news presentation. These days, MSNBC’s schedule is sandwiched between the political analysis of “Morning Joe” and the primetime lineup, with morning and early-afternoon programs that burnish the journalism of NBC News giving way in mid-afternoon to more analysis and stronger remarks from Nicolle Wallace and others.

She has worked her way up in the business, starting out in Florida as a radio host and blogger and then moving over time to become managing editor of The Grio. Since launching “A.M. Joy,” however, Reid has become an integral part of MSNBC’s brand and identity. She will likely have a greater hand in that in her new role.



Twitter Explodes With Calls To Boycott Goya Foods After CEO Heaps Praise On Trump

Bob Unanue, CEO, Goya Foods 

Robert Unanue said the U.S. is “truly blessed” to “have a leader like President Trump” in a Rose Garden speech.

Goya Foods, the Latino food giant, soared to the top of Twitter’s trending topics Thursday after its CEO heaped praise on President Donald Trump, prompting many of its customers to say they would boycott the business in light of the president’s history of vilifying Hispanics. 

In remarks at the Rose Garden, Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue said that the country is “truly blessed” to be under Trump’s leadership, and he compared the president to his Spanish immigrant grandfather.

“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” said Unanue, who has led the family-owned food company since 2004. “And that’s what my grandfather did. He came to this country to build, to grow and to prosper. And we have an incredible builder and we pray, we pray for our leadership, our president and for our country, that we continue to prosper and to grow.”

The remarks came following a roundtable discussion between Trump and Hispanic leaders before the president signed an executive order called the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.

Twitter exploded with comments pointing out Trump’s persistent history of racist rhetoric toward America’s Hispanic community. Among those to voice their intention to boycott the business were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro.

Goya and #Goyaway were the top two trending topics on Twitter on Thursday night. #BoycottGoya and Unanue’s name and title were on the list, too.

Goya Foods did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.

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